Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why I am a Life-Long Learner.... Lessons from my Grandmother

It has been over a week since my last post. In that time, I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting.

My grandmother passed away this week at the age of 82. Whenever someone passes from this life, we as humans reflect on life in general. My grandmother had many lessons to teach me - some, I am sure, shaped who I am today.

Janet had a difficult life to say the least. She was born in January 1930 - right in the midst of the Depression. She was given up by her biological mother at 4 months old due to financial struggles. A family adopted Janet, but at the age of 12, she was taken from that home and placed in an orphanage until she returned to live with her biological family again. From the age of 12 until she married at 17, she moved from her mother's home to aunts, uncles, and grandparents who assisted in raising her. This constant relocating obviously had an affect on her education. Janet rarely stayed in the same school for more than a year. In fact, some academic years found Janet studying at four different schools. The learning gaps were great and frustrations must have been high.  At the age of 17, as a junior in high school, facing another move away from a school, Janet chose to drop out of high school. Soon after, she married my grandfather and started a family.

Reasons abounded for my grandmother to be a poorly educated woman. Her life was difficult, her education was sporadic, and she never finished high school. However, the grandmother I knew was a voracious reader, loved writing, and was very intelligent. I saw a love for learning in my grandmother more than many people who have college degrees. In fact, anyone who knew Janet can confirm she was often found with a book in hand, a letter being written to a pen-pal, or the tv on watching Jeopardy (her favorite show).

During Janet's last days of life, I reflected on my own life and excuses I make.

As an educator, I desire to jump into the 21st century of education and learn all I can. I am developing my PLN, attending webinars, and tweeting and blogging. However, I also make excuses regarding how difficult it will be to implement such learning in my classroom. Then I look at Janet. It was difficult for her to learn anything given her environment, yet in her later years she often read 250+ books each year.

I can say connecting with other educators around the globe is a struggle. Then I look at Janet. She has been keeping pen-pals from all over the world for as long as I've known her. They learned from one another regarding lifestyles, habits, locations, and more. She has even visited pen-pals on occasion. Given the ease of twitter, facebook, blogs, and other technology, connecting can be done easily for us today.

I can complain how colleagues have let me down and I no longer want to communicate with them. Then I look at Janet. She forgave everyone who deeply disappointed her during her difficult life - including her biological mother. I need to forgive those who have offended me and move on to learn from them.

Thank you, dearest Mammy, for the lessons you taught. May I continue on this journey to be a better educator, learner and woman because of you!

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