I am always intrigued by our effort to capture and memorialize the proverbial “learning moment” in our educational experience. Whether it is as a student or as an instructor, we are always enamored with that moment that we feel our learning has occurred. Yet, as I reflect on this from my current educational role, I am discovering that there is so much that goes into that moment that to call it a moment, or to think that it is an instantaneous occurrence is quite far from the truth.
What I have begun to discover in my limited time at the business end of teaching and learning is there are so many parts and pieces that contribute to the culmination of that learning manifestation or moment. From a pragmatic standpoint of an educator, we have to acknowledge that there are so many tools and mechanisms at our disposal to facilitate the imparting of knowledge on our students. However, there is the ever-present ego-centric belief that we as educators have tapped into some esoteric aspect of our own knowledge and ability to connect with others to provide that “missing” element for a particular student that results in their instant acquisition of knowledge. I don’t state that as a fault or indictment of our love for learning or teach but more for the purpose of setting the stage or what it means to teach and educate.
It is often said that we never stop learning, and for those of us that have become parents we also know that we never stop teaching. But in the formal setting of higher education there are some defining boundaries of the our learning environment. And it is within those boundaries we are challenged as teachers to stimulate our students in their pursuit of an education. It is in this process that I am discovering that the learning moment is truly a journey of discovery and understanding. What is personified as a moment of enlightenment is really the cresting of a hill on that journey.
So as an educator, I want to enhance that journey for my students. I want to empower them to strive to progress. And most importantly, I want to motivate them to persevere through the valleys of that journey. I have come to believe that this is an important element of the teaching profession. While we all take pride in, commemorate, and often glorify that Learning moment, it is really when we are in the midst of that educational valley that the foundation for our moments of epiphany are laid.