I have heard teachers say that they learn a lot from their students and that is one of the best parts of the job. I, too, have learned from my students and I can only echo the sentiment-it is one of the best parts of my job as an Independent Educational Consultant.
A few months ago, while I was listening to the radio I heard about an Oxfam Hunger Banquet® being discussed. I stopped, listened and smiled as a particular student came to mind. I had only recently learned about what happens at an Oxfam Hunger Banquet® when one of my students wrote about it in an essay as part of a college supplement. For those of you who are not familiar, what you eat at this banquet is randomly assigned and is designed to simulate the real world of imbalanced food distribution. If your ticket indicates you are from the developing world, you will end up with only rice while someone else may get a several course meal.
As I work with each student over a period of time, I get to know them and learn about their academics, extracurricular activities and passions. This helps me guide them when choosing essay topics or deciding how to approach certain essay questions. These essays– the details of who they are and what they have done — paint amazing pictures of these young men and women. They are about wonderful community service involvement, paid jobs, their own businesses and, other unusual talents and knowledge. Their stories have enlightened me about what it takes to teach sailing, certain figure skating moves, Byzantine Triptychs and modern art, the meaning behind and proper way to greet someone “Namaste”, musical genres, mosh pits and more. I have learned about science research involving ways to fight ovarian cancer and how robots need to be designed to encourage children to open up.
As an IEC I am always in the learning mode. I continually learn more about colleges and universities– what they offer and which of my students would be a good fit. I learn the details about particular majors. But the learning that brings me great satisfaction is what I learn from my students.