Magazine article The Catalyst

Education as Change

Magazine article The Catalyst

Education as Change

Article excerpt

It has been said that you cannot step into the same river twice. No matter our organization or industry, most of us feel that we are swimming in change and change initiatives. Many of us have come to the conclusion that change is neither good nor bad; change simply is. That being said, many things that we associate with positive growth require us to change our viewpoints, preconceived notions, or behaviors. As adults with entrenched opinions and a lifetime of experiences that reinforce our opinions, change can be hard, even when it is disguised as education.

As educators, teachers, and trainers, how often do we approach our students' learning from that perspective? When we ask our students to learn, we are asking them to integrate change. We are asking them to go back to their homes, workplaces, and relationships with perhaps radically different viewpoints than the ones they first entered our classrooms and training facilities with. In many cases, perhaps most, we aren't just asking them to absorb a few necessary facts, such as multiplication tables, or distance between Philadelphia and Boston. Many times, when adult students enroll in a college or training program, we are asking them to re-orient their priorities, from how they spend their time to how they will spend their money. Upon completion, we will ask even more of them - we will ask them upon the receipt of their diploma or credential to change how they define where they belong in the world. We are asking them by changing their perceptions about themselves and the world they operate in to follow us, in a very real way, to a whole new world.

One thing that we frequently miss as we embark on this change journey called education is that there is often grief associated with change. Adult students often have to deal with family and friends who aren't all together pleased with the new, improved student version of someone they thought they had figured out a long time ago. This can leave the adult student feeling without support at a critical juncture in their educational journey. We have all experienced a change that, at least at the most difficult point in the process, we wish we could go back in time and undo. We come to realize, though, that once we have experienced change or knowledge, we cannot "un-know" it or "un-experience" it. We truly cannot step into the same river twice. We can never go back to who we were prior to exposure to learning, even if we really wanted to, regardless of the social pressure on us to do so. …

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