For most people, the phrase ‘educator’ or ‘teacher’ can seem quite daunting. When we think of topics like ‘school’ and ‘learning’, we tend to think of the traditional student and teacher in a classroom, with the teacher often being someone we see as ‘educated’ or holding some form of advanced degree resulting from time spent being formally instructed.
I know this seems somewhat lackluster and you are probably questioning why I am bringing up these ideas that seem to be a cultural norm in our K-12 system in America; however, I want to put forth the notion that in some way, we all are educators, lovers of knowledge, or mentors in some way. While at our first stop in Scotland, this was a reflection our group spent a lot of time on. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that regardless of how education is presented, meaningful learning is not about the hours of formal lecture completed, nor the amount of information shared, but rather our interactions and engagements with the world around us.
Within our travel group, few of us had formal instructional training. Myself, being in our Agricultural Education program here at UGA, was one of the few who had previously been in a formal elementary classroom setting as an instructor. However, the best teacher I encountered was one of the children I had the chance to spend time with on the trip. We would talk about our lives, our cultures, our childhoods to such a level it felt as if I was speaking to a true peer rather than a 10 year old. They were incredibly kind and answered the millions of questions I had posed about life in Dumfries, and did not hesitate to show me the same kindness and familiarity that they would show a lifelong friend.
Because of this, I challenge you to think about the word teaching and what it means to you. What if we, as a collective, shifted from our familiar ideas of teaching being solely imparting knowledge to being the idea of sharing passions and interests? What if we each were educators in our own unique ways in daily life? Our nature as humans is to explore and form notions about the world around us, making each of us the perfect educators to share what we have interest and experience in with each other.
I want to leave you with this, we are all teachers and we are all students simultaneously in life. We all have the opportunity to teach and learn outside of the traditional classroom everyday – make the most of it!