Friday, September 3, 2010

A love of learning...

I love this rose too!
Image from
The topic of the day is Education. Why? Because I want more. Why today? Because I have just been reading about Sarah Wilson's interview with Edward De Bono, a man well known for his ideas about thinking and the 'Six Thinking Hats'. I felt that the following words as written by Sarah captured the essence of what The Answer Is Writing is about. It also got me to thinking more about Education and theorists, taking me back to my time as a teaching student.

Sarah wrote:

We’ve been raised, he says, to think in order to “hurry up and find an answer”. Instead, thinking should be about being open and random and exploring possibilities. It’s the process that matters. And from it, value – not answers – emerge.

I feel that Edward's thoughts reflect how I feel, and offer one possible explanation for why I believe the answer is writing. I don't truly anticipate this blog is a blog of answers in the straight forward black and white sense. The word 'answers' is a metaphor for the process that happens when I write and what is revealed as I partake in the process. The name of this blog suggests answers come from writing; it would be more accurate to say that value comes from the exploration that is synonymous with my writing.

Not only was I impressed with Edward De Bono's words because they are align with my own sentiments, his work has been of interest to me since my grade six teacher used his theory of 'The six thinking hats' successfully in our class. His theory provides a process for thinking through topics, for example you use the Red hat for feelings, Black Hat for negatives etc.

Eight years later I was studying Education at University, and learning about Edward De Bono and other educational theorists. I think these studies of the psychology of education were of the greatest interest to me. I felt that their ideas could extend well beyond the classroom. My favourites were Edward De Bono, Howard Gardener and his Multiple Intelligences and Vygotsky's  'zone of proximal development'.

As much as I enjoyed learning about these theories, I didn't enjoy the actual practice of primary school teaching. After four different placements across two years of study it became quite clear that my heart did not lie in the classroom. Looking back I can see some of the clues that Primary Teaching wasn't the path for me. One would be the panic attack I had on my very first primary school placement while walking with a teacher around the school yard. We were going around and around and kids were yelling, screaming, running. I remember feeling incredibly dizzy and anxious. I rationalised it by believing it was low blood sugar, from not eating my morning snack yet. I didn't mention it to anyone and I certainly did not know what a panic attack was. In hindsight I think it was one of the first clues that my heart and soul was not wanting to pursue teaching.

I also remember sitting in my first Psychology 101 class, I had chosen Psychology as my elective and there were very few of my fellow teaching students in the class, it was made up of nursing, arts and social work students. As I sat listening to my lecturer, completely engaged and excited about studying Psychology a few tears rolled down my cheek. I wished I could spend all of lectures feeling this way, learning about such interesting things. I'd fallen in love with Psychology. I think the realisation that something could make me feel this way in addition to the knowing that the rest of my course seemed far less appealing in comparison brought the tears on.

Two years later I was quite miserable studying Education and made the decision to transfer into a Social Work degree. A few years later after I'd graduated I re-discovered Vygotsky's work whilst attending the International Narrative Therapy Conference in Adelaide. A whole hour was dedicated to how Vygotsky's work had influenced the development of Narrative Therapy and what his theories could do in supporting our understandings as therapists. I can't truly explain why, but I was captivated. It was the highlight of the conference, I found the rest fairly bland, apart from the session on polyamoury (having many lovers/relationships), that was a real eye opener! We heard from people who have chosen polyamoury about how it is possible, even wonderful, to have more than one lover in a very honest, adult and fair way.

However it wasn't polygamy that drew me in, it was hearing about Vygotsky that did it. When I returned home from the conference I began researching more on the Internet.
Vygotsky worked in the area of psychology for 10 years before he died in his late 30's after contracting TB from his brother whom he was caring for. In those 10 years he achieved a huge amount, he developed and wrote about 18 or more works, including those still very prominent in educational psychology today. If you're interested to learn more, I suggest googling him; I did and you can see a list of many of his works here. His history and achievements are amazing.

I still find certain areas of psychology extremely interesting, and the reason I didn't pursue it as an undergraduate is because the course sounded to be fairly scientific, and I knew it would take at least 6 years more study on top of the 2 years I'd already done to become a qualified psychologist. I was keen to get out there working and chose Social Work instead. I don't question the move now, as I still feel little interest in taking up studies of behavioural science. But my passion for learning i still very much alive, I'd like to feed that flame some more.

I'm not too sure what I might pursue in order to fulfill and fuel my desire for further study yet. I think it involves some form of psychology, perhaps learning and education related, learning more about the mind body soul connection (metaphysics) and health and nutrition. I'd love to learn more about writing too, but not about academic writing, more about the creative, expressive fun kind of writing!

So I'm still riding that train, enjoying the scenery, embracing that which tickles my fancy. Next stop?? Who knows, perhaps I'll just keep chugging along for a while and enjoy the ride.

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