According to Scott-Peck in ‘The road less travelled’ (1979), education comes from the word ‘educare’, meaning to ‘bring out from within’ or to ‘lead forth’. The art of teaching then, much like Socrates’ allusion to teachers as mid-wives (Plato’s Theaetetus), might be seen as concerned with drawing out what is already contained within the learner, bringing it into their conscious awareness.
In my experience, rather than trying to shovel information into people, the practice of learning and teaching should always be learner-focussed, most often achieved through facilitating a social ‘space’ where learners are given permission to go on a quest – an adventure of personal discovery into the self.
This space of learning can transpire through a social, collaborative process where individuals share and critique their own assumptions, experiences and perspectives of personal learning and knowing. Through this often disorienting quest to uncover/discover/rediscover the truths and strengths that lie within, individuals can begin to find new ways of seeing themselves and the world around them, and begin to consider the rich opportunities they have to engage with and impact on this newly perceived world. For me, mine is a process of supporting the ‘restorying’ of learners’ perspectives on what they see as possible for them in life. As an ‘educator’ of adults returning to study, I find the greatest satisfaction in supporting these transformations of self and potential.
Today, as I’ve been continuing my own PhD learning quest, pursuing a greater understanding of how we can best support teachers in their own transformative journeys of learning, I have come across an article from the Gallup Blog, the company that provides us with a myriad of statistics on all manner of fascinating stuff. The article is entitled ‘Teaching may be the secret to a good life’, and in it, Brandon Busteed, Executive (Director of Gallup Education) and Dr. Shane Lopez (Gallup Senior Scientist) discuss their findings about the satisfaction rates of teachers in America.
Even while identifying the second highest levels of stress of all fourteen vocational areas surveyed, teachers rate the second highest level against emotional health and wellbeing. Though not perceived as a vocation pursued for financial gain, teachers surveyed responded that they get to “use their strengths and do what they do best every day”, and are most likely to report experiencing happiness and enjoyment (Busteed and Lopez, 2013).
This leads Busteed and Lopez to propose that as the title suggests, a career of teaching may well be the secret to a good life. They reflect on the benefits of working in such a richly rewarding vocation, and consider the value of great teachers in our lives … those who have inspired and encouraged us in pursuit of our sometimes lofty dreams, urging us to reach ever higher as the experience of life crafts us into the truest expression of ourselves.
I am not alone in knowing that the value of great teachers is true in many contexts. Those who have had the privilege and challenge of raising children and those who mentor, coach and lead with gentle strength each day in their work, sport and recreational lives may well have inspired and experienced the same richly rewarding outcomes.
So thank you to the educators in all contexts who continue to inspire and encourage us on our journey to the fullest expression of ourselves. May they realise the grandest of lives.
Busteed, B & Lopez, S. (2013) Teaching may well be the secret to a good life. The Gallup Blog. http://thegallupblog.gallup.com/2013/03/teaching-may-be-secret-to-good-life.html
Peck, S. M. (1978). The road less travelled. New York: Touchstone.
Plato (circa 257 BC). Theaetetus Translated by Cornford, F. M. (1930) pp148e-151d. http://www.phy.ilstu.edu/pte/310content/philosophy/midwife.html