The lifelong learner
By Judianne Jayme
During my two years in the faculty of education, there were a few phrases that quickly lost their novelty. We heard them all the time. One particular phrase was the notion of being a “lifelong learner.” Yes, things will always change in our field. Yes, new and more efficient ideas will always come up. Yes, we will adapt. But when you’re a student, and particularly when you’re itching to get out into the real world, this concept was just that: an idea. We were antsy for the real world. We were growing weary of hearing about constantly learning. We wanted to do, do, and do. We wanted to take action.
It didn’t take long into my first year of teaching that this concept was put into practice. My first group of students used to ask me, “You’re going to another meeting?” To tell the truth, my current group sometimes asks me this as well. “Miss Jayme, what are you going to learn this time?” The best part is that while my first year meetings were mandatory, the consecutive years’ professional and personal development sessions have been by my own initiative. I am learning that to remain sharp, I must continuously challenge myself and push past my comfort zone. The comfort zone is cozy, but it’s also a place that gets you fast-tracked to boredom and restlessness.
The inevitable happened in my first year of teaching. As a child, you always think you will never say things your parents tell you. When you grow up, you hear their words slip out. The same goes for my transition from student to professional. Mere months into my first year, I replied to my students’ questions with, “Well, kids, as we move through life, we need to adapt. We need to keep learning new ideas. We are, after all, lifelong learners.” I nearly cringed the first time I heard myself say it, but I knew it was true. The concept was finally put into practice. I am a lifelong learner.
The ability to adapt to your profession is so crucial for your growth in it. With the speed that research, technology, and information spread in our society, you have to be willing to make space in your toolbox of knowledge and ideas. You must be a learner. To sit back passively is to be left behind in this day and age. As a lifelong learner, you don’t have to continuously change your beliefs or values. As a lifelong learner, you adapt your practices to accommodate new research, new information, new ideas that will help you work smarter, not harder in your field.
Parent tip: learn with your kids
A comment I receive annually comes from parents who want to help their students with certain subjects, but either do not remember the concept, or are unfamiliar with the concept the student is asking about. My advice to these parents, and to you, is to begin with a conversation with your child. Ask them what they understand about that question or idea. If you have access to books or the Internet, turn to that. Show them that you are a lifelong learner, and they will value that quality in themselves!
Judianne Jayme is a third year educator teaching sixth grade in the Winnipeg School Division.