Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goddard College, Here I Come!

I wrote the following application essay a few months ago.  I've just found out that I have been accepted into the programme and I am pretty darn happy about that!

That's the first hurdle.  The second is how I am going to actually pay for the schooling!  No matter - have will, will travel.

Having re-read it just now, I think it's kind of a neat little summary of my journey so I thought I'd share it here with you.  Enjoy!

After almost a decade of facilitating learning and, through that process,  growing in leaps and bounds as an educator, the time has finally come for me to pursue my degree in Education.  

I began facilitating a nursery group at a local private school when I first enrolled in a satellite campus of Sojourner Douglas College to obtain my Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education.  I found that from my very first moment in the classroom, I was completely fascinated and captivated with the process of learning and discovery.  Being the one to help create the space, and help children to make those discoveries was especially transformative for me.  

Not long after I started teaching, I gave birth to my first child.  She became my priority and I took an extended leave from my school and schooling in order to care for my baby.  

Between my experience at the school and having my own child(ren), I made my own discovery that education as I know it is fundamentally flawed.  I began to conclude that the systematic institutionalization of the learning process has stolen something - a big, important something - from the learners and teachers alike.  At the time, I couldn't name what that missing something was, but I just knew there had to be another, better way to go about educating young children.  

This was the beginning of a long journey - one I am still on with dogged determination - to finding out what education really means, and how we can evolutionize* prevailing pedagogy.  

My search led me to Maria Montessori and her pioneering work in literally hands-on education and through her theories, I began to see that learning was a so much more interactive and purpose driven than it has been interpreted in traditional schools.  Though I was beginning to re-orient with Montessori, I still felt driven to keep searching.  

Rudolf Steiner's Waldorf Schools came next.  I read everything I could put my hands on about Mr. Steiner's philosophy and theories; and, of course, the principles of the schooling itself.  Here, too, I learned more about learning, particularly about play and the critical role it plays in a child's development.  My encounter with (the theories of) Waldorf Schools left me with with a wider scope of understanding about education and learning and still, I needed to keep searching.

What else?  How else?  When else?  Who else? These questions drove me to understand the history of education and to incorporate the truths about the history into the theories I was developing about learning. 

By this time, I had given birth to my second child and we were all three happily playing and growing together.  Spending those years with my two children as my teachers has taught me far more about life as a learner than any other encompassing experience ever could. 

Learning is innate.  Learning happens organically when there is meaning and relevance.  Learning is driven by the learner, not the teacher.  The role of the teacher is to create space, know the learner and help the learner access what she needs to gain deeper understanding.  

I was reading books and listening to talks given by profound thinkers in education such as John Holt, Chris Mercogliano, bell hooks, Lisa Delpit, John Taylor Gatto, Herbert Kohl, Sir Ken Robinson, Paolo Friere ... the list goes on and on and on.

I've not only been facilitating learning for my own children, but I hosted several school year long 3-days/week playgroups for 2 to 4 year olds.  A simple, play-based learning environment that met the ideals of parents seeking, too, a better way.   

My path eventually wondered into the Unschooling movement when I attended a Rethinking Education conference in Texas in 2009.  Having been an "unwitting" unschooler for several years prior, it seemed a perfect fit... for a while.  As usual, more questions began to surface for me.  The most important of which was: What about everybody else?  What about people who, struggling to meet the basic needs of Maslow's Hierarchy, could not afford to home- or unschool their children?  Who would help those children? 

These questions helped me to learn about democratic education and schooling; Sudbury and Free Schools all over the United States were already providing learner-centred education as a service.  But still, it was primarily mid- and upper economic income brackets who could afford the private schools offering this.

My next stop was the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) conference in 2010.  It was here that I was able to meet, hear, and interact with some of the authors I mentioned earlier, as well as a wonderful group of forward thinking educators and learners alike.  It was also here that I first learned about Goddard College.  

Since then, I have most recently attended the 20th Annual IDEC (International Democratic Education Conference) in Caguas, Puerto Rico, where I strengthened my resolve to be a catalyst for educational reform right here in my country of residence: The Bahamas.

My life has take me on varied and scenic route.  Rather, my life has been the route -and I know that one of the things I must do is to create a space for learners to come and discover their own amazing individual selves so they can know that they really do matter and that they have gifts that they can share with the world.  [...]

I am excited about the possibilities that will become accessible to me should I be accepted into your profoundly relevant and dynamic programme!  

There is so much more that simply will not fit into this essay.  So I will conclude with this:  I believe that Goddard College is the right place for me to pursue a degree in Education that will be meaningful and applicable (which can hardly be said about many degree programmes out there!).  As a working mother, the low-residency aspect is especially attractive to me because it offers me the freedom and flexibility to pursue my education in the spaces that best suite me.  I have heard good things about the program offered there, particularly the ability of the learner to construct their own learning.  It is my desire to obtain a degree that will focus on Progressive Education with a component of educating for sustainability and ecological awareness.  

*- "Evolutionize" is my own word that I am using because it's the best way for me to articulate what I am trying to say - which is that education doesn't need a 'turn around' (a la "revolutionize") but rather advancement, diversification, transformation and adaptation to where humans are today.
There you have it, guts and all.

2 comments:

  1. I especially like this: "Learning is innate. Learning happens organically when there is meaning and relevance. Learning is driven by the learner, not the teacher. The role of the teacher is to create space, know the learner and help the learner access what she needs to gain deeper understanding."

    And this: [Unschooling] seemed a perfect fit... for a while. As usual, more questions began to surface for me. The most important of which was: What about everybody else? What about people who, struggling to meet the basic needs of Maslow's Hierarchy, could not afford to home- or unschool their children? Who would help those children?

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