On Checking Out

I love learning. Love, love, love it. While I have a particular interest in math, math education, English, English education, education in general, baton twirling, sports in general, dancing, the arts in general, etc., I like to learn about anything. Anything that builds my knowledge, I tend to find some benefit someway.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated for some students in my graduating class, as well as teachers who have their degrees, that they have checked out. They think that getting the almighty degree is the end of the learning road. I’ve done my darnedest to ensure that I’m milking these last four months of my degree for all they are worth. Three down and one to go, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I’m seeing students around me with a different feeling though — they are making comments or acting in a way that suggests they are thinking, “Three down and one to go. Thank goodness. I want out of here. I’m just putting in my time for a degree. This is all make-work stuff.”

It's frustrating to see these metaphorical signs around me when I really do care. Flickr photo credit to justinjagged.

I’m here to say (and vent – sorry for the rant) that¬†no, it’s not a make-work project! What you make of it is the work you put into it. I don’t think I can say that enough. Any good dieter (oxymoron, maybe?) knows that it’s all a matter of calories consumed versus calories expended. Same in learning — what you put in to it needs to be equal to what you get out of it. I want to get as much as possible out of the next four weeks as I possibly can, so I am working my butt off, and doing so rather happily. I can honestly say that staying up until 3 a.m. is actually kind of pleasurable if you like what you are doing. It all boils down to motivation. I am motivated to learn (on most days), because I love it; whereas, it seems that some of my classmates are just motivated to get the heck out of there.

I’m publicly stating this now — I have learned more in the last three months, with the exception of my internship, than I did in the three years leading up combined. I learned a boat-load in those three years. I had to, but I have learned so much more as a result of my internship, thinking about what I did well, what I could have done better, and what I can do to fix it. How can I be a better teacher? How can I be a better role model? How can I be a better learner? None of this growth would have been possible without an internship, but I sure am glad I try to stop growing after internship.

All I can to these prospective teachers is this: when will you ever get the chance to find something you are passionate about, learn about it from at least five experts each week, interact with fellow teachers about ground-breaking education ideas, design the perfect earth-shattering/mind-blowing/kick-butt unit just because you can? When? I don’t know about you, but unless they add another 10 hours to the day once we start working, it won’t be happening.¬† This isour time. We can reflect. We can grow. We can conjecture new ideas. We can research. We can find things we are passionate about.

How you handle all this is up to you, but for me, I’m going to take advantage of it. Why wouldn’t I?

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2 thoughts on “On Checking Out

  1. Sara,
    I completely agree 100% with your blog post. However, as a student who is guilty of counting down the days until graduation, I am just going to provide you with the context of why I am ready to be done school. In no way is it that I no longer want to learn, in fact it is just the opposite – I am beyond excited to continue learning in a different context… being a teacher rather than a student.

    More than anything, I have faced certain challenges this semester with professors, and that is the main reason that I am ready to be out of University. I don’t want to have to change my writing style, and my personal reflections in order to just pass a class. I think this turned me off of still being in school from the beginning of the semester.

    With that said, I do agree with you that this is a once in a life time opportunity to be able to reflect as a group, and to learn so much from each other. I am glad that I have had this experience to do it, as I have learnt so much from everyone.

  2. Wow. Very powerful post, Sara. I have to say that when I first started reading the post I assumed I was going to be reading a rant – thanks for the heads-up :-) – but the tone, and passion, exemplified in your writing proved my suspicion wrong. I completely agree that life in general is a learning process; it doesn’t stop when you get your degree. The fact that our profession is all about learning is something that should be appreciated – it is sad to see, though, that this isn’t always the case. We are pretty lucky that we educators can do continuous learning; it is something that should be cherished.

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