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Education Aficionado

Education Aficionado Background

Its hard to say that you’re enthusiastic about one thing and also happen to be enthusiastic about another, without letting one take priority over the other. It is especially hard when both are completely intertwined. Thus, I had to find another word that says passion, like enthusiastic does, but still captures the essence of what I’m trying to say – thats when I stumbled upon aficionado.

In my opinion education is anything but square, but alas not everyone agrees. So I guess it can seem a little nerdy. In the past I absolutely loathed the word nerd. In fact, I used to think of as many possible reasons I could find to explain why I am a geek and why geeks are cooler than nerds. If, however, you have a strong liking for a field such as education, you can’t help being a little nerdy. So where I labeled tech enthusiasm as geeky, I call a passion for education (an aficionado of education) nerdy.

Now that we established why I use the word aficionado, lets see why I am so passionate about education.

I’ve always been a very good student, right from primary school. What I didn’t know back then was that I can learn using multiple different learning styles, which explains why I didn’t always have to study as hard as my friends. It was only later that it dawned on me that people (who called me a friend) despised me because I didn’t have to study too hard and sometimes not even at all.

I didn’t want to be disliked by people and thus tried to figure out why some people learn differently or appear to not be able to learn. What I discovered early on (around Year 10 in high school) was that I was being educated in a broken system. I told my parents that I wanted to leave school because my teachers can no longer teach me. Thankfully I have very persistent parents.

Upon this troubling discovery I started study groups while in school. Particularly in technical areas, physics, chemistry and computer science. Computer science being my favorite and also the area where I was able to assist more than anything. I ran programming workshops with my friends and saw some of them go from failing the subject to passing to get distinctions. These experiences at the time didn’t make me want to become a teacher.

After matriculating (completing Year 12 in high school) I went on to study computing at a technical college (specialising in web technologies and programming). It was during this time that I learnt a magic little word that changed my life forever… the word? – DEPENDS!

I learnt that everything I knew and was taught could actually be wrong, and where it was not wrong, it was not the only answer to a given question. I thank this teacher so much. This was the best thing I ever learnt in tertiary studies. This was the word that made me want to become a teacher!

Sure there are stages in early development of children where early patterns need to be taught, but beyond a certain point our education system breaks. It is here that a teacher’s role becomes increasingly important, because a teacher needs to prepare his/her student for a world where prescribed curricula is no longer adequate. See this great talk to learn a bit more why: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (I would add problem solving skills, experimentation and common logic).

I don’t teach that often these days, but I am now in positions where I can change some training cultures. This excites me that even though I still work within a system that needs tremendous reform (not the kind that shifts money around) I now have some influence that bring about change, even if it is a little bit at a time.

Still reading? Thanks, but no you’ll have to wait until my next post.

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