Creating a Culture of Reflection

This is what I feel makes the difference between folks I refer to as talkers and those who I feel are movers and shakers (those who actually accomplish something and make a marked difference).  Here is the tall order of authenticity as stated by Brookfield:  “You must make full and continuous disclosure of the reasons for your actions, you must keep your promises, and you must work to make your words and actions as consistent as possible.”  (Brookfield, 1995)  The sum of the matter for me is integrity, authenticity and congruence between my teaching philosophy and my practice.

Learning is …

… an interaction among people; occurring anywhere and anytime; and involving the discovery of why you do what you do and think what you think.

M. Davies and A. Richards (2010)

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My teaching-learning philosophy #2

So, then, I am of the opinion, as Cranton states, that the “teaching and learning process is the mutual responsibility of the instructor and the learner. The instructor’s role is one of resource person, co-inquirer, facilitator, catalyst and guide.” (Cranton, 2000). As such, my aspiration is to be a skillful teacher as Brookfield describes: “growing into the truth of teaching … developing a trust, a sense of intuitive confidence, in the accuracy and validity of my judgments and insights, and establishing an authentic presence in the classroom.” (Brookfield, 2006). According to Brookfield (2006), the skillful teacher’s activities are “grounded in three core assumptions:
(1) Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn;
(2) Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice; and
(3) The most important knowledge skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.”

These assumptions, too, are a part of my teaching-learning philosophy – a part of who I am as an educator and they ultimately dictate my practice.

My teaching-learning philosophy

My teaching-learning philosophy is that adult education should be a journey of self-directed learning, exploratory process-oriented dialogue, collaborative learning and transformative learning. (Fenwick and Parsons, 2000). The adult educator’s role then is to facilitate this journey for learners in a safe and trusting environment – an environment that adheres to adult education principles. Only after having been an adult learner myself can I fully appreciate what other adult learners experience. “First, we lead people who like to be in control on a journey which is by definition, a trek into the uncontrollable and the unfamiliar. Second, we require people who are accustomed to independence to surrender to the authority of another adult or an institution. Third, we encourage people who believe that mastery brings power and respect, and who have learned to hide their weaknesses and sell their strengths, to make mistakes. We subject them to situations where their weaknesses are on public display, where they will likely fail, and where they may not compare favourably to other adults. Fourth, we expect people who have learned to protect their status and sense of self in order to succeed in a competitive world to accept criticism from another adult.” (Fenwick and Parsons, 2000). All these are reasons why adults can experience difficulty adapting to the formal learning environment of adult education.

Who am I?

If I could give one word or metaphor that I think represents who I am at the core, it would be a fire starter. The greatest joy for me in any learning-teaching engagement is to see the moment when I or someone else “gets it,” or the moment when the transmission of information compels someone to ask “why?” and wonder how it all came to be. At that moment, the fire of inquiry is sparked, consciousness and awareness is raised and that person (regardless of what they do with that information thereafter) will never be the same again. They have been changed or touched forever in a process that cannot be reversed. Even if there is no overt or visible activity as a result of the encounter, or even if they keep it to themselves and hide it in the recesses of their mind, the fire of this new knowledge will smolder in the bosom of their consciousness and always affect them.

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