Fifteen Credits

college_textbooksOddly enough I have thought about being in school all day yesterday. I was grading a pile of papers and planning a trip to New England next weekend.  My thoughts keep rewinding to being at student in the college. Even though I am lecturing at the University and not a student, the energy of the classroom is consuming. The power of learning, discussion, the wonder of the future and all the possibilities. Learning from history and studying research that could change everything about how we live is an almighty pilgrimage.

The whole concept of learning is an expedition. My son is applying to universities. His excitement and anxiety is contagious. The anticipation his unknown future holds seems so monumental. The chance to do or be anything you wants to in your life. The untouched journey holds many possibilities. The road untraveled with no GPS but a head and heart full of dreams. Definitely an amazing right of passage.

The graduate school course I am teaching is the study of behavioral sciences. The students are typically adult learners from all age groups. Some students are directly out of college while others are in mid-life seeking a fresh career or a new beginning. Then of course there is me, 28 years post graduation with a career of experiences and a half decade of life.

What do we all have in common? I am thinking we have everything in common.

Reflecting, what we have in common is passion to learn new things. Whether at the beginning of our study or following years of study we seek promotion. This type of promotion doesn’t necessarily have a monetary reward but rather a personal satisfaction that we are smarter, stronger and more skilled than we were yesterday. The focus on improving our knowledge and skill  propels us to work hard improving our understanding of science or our art.

It is easy to read and learn from a book or by listening to a lecture,  I believe the key is putting our knowledge into action. Having knowledge without action is a big fat waste. I always challenge my graduate students to practice being a good listener and talker. My students are studying to become a licensed counselors studying theories, evidenced-based practices and therapies. These are all important parts of learning and gaining knowledge.

My challenge to them is to practice beginning conversations with 5 new people that they don’t know. They practice beginning conversations with the person behind them in the grocery store, with customer service on the phone, at the drive through window. The purpose of the is to practicing engaging people into conversation. The goal is to learn as much about the other person as possible by asking open questions and listening. I say, “Listen and show interest in the other person.” We can get so caught up in ourselves and getting our selfish needs met that we forget how important  it is to listen. People love to talk about themselves while someone who is actively listening. “Listen, listen, listen and people will engage and share their feelings,” I say.

I typically say to the students practice talking and listening to everyone. Learn whats going on with complete strangers. Show them empathy and that you care about what they have to share. Be interested in meeting and talking to everyone you can. Talk and listen as much as you can with everyone especially those who are in our care.

I am inspired by the movie Patch Adams, played by the late Robin Williams.  One of my favorite Patch Adams quotes goes something like this:,

“See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see….”.

See what everyone is unable to or chooses not to see in the world. Be open to learning from one another.

I believe the message in this movie. Robin Williams says, “Everyone is a student and a teacher, everyone is a doctor and a patient.”

In response to the daily prompt: Fifteen Credits.

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