This process has given me a great deal of food for thought, but I'm coming to realise that its also something I've been considering for many years in former incarnations, quite different from the student life I now lead, but which have all been leading me to this point.
So, I seem to have spent a number of years of my adult life, thinking and learning - about thinking and learning.
During 21 years of parenthood, and 13 years of preschool-leading, I've been fascinated in the process of learning, of how people develop, of ways to encourage learning and the ways in which learning can be inhibited. Learning has always struck me as being a 'natural' process, but one which can easily be derailed. I have applied these ideas to the process of student mentoring over the past two years, and I'm looking forward to helping the first year students in the London module from next week.
Learning is very exciting; witnessing this process in others, even more so. Watching the process of developing maturity as learning takes place is a privileged viewpoint.
Time is one of the greatest resources in the process, but it's this aspect which is overlooked. Learning, in the school environment at least, has become a rushed activity, and one which is constantly assessed to see if it's happening. When young students come into academia, this is an area which needs to be addressed.
They are so used to 'finding the answer' that they take time to settle into the notion that their own development depends not on finding the answer, but exploring the questions.
Perhaps this is where mature students benefit, as they are perhaps more likely to have recognized themselves as the products of a lifetime of development - not 'finished' in the manner of the school leaver, but a work in progress, unfinished, in need of honing.
As a society I believe we place far too much emphasis on the teaching to order, and fail to recognise the value of real learning. As long as schools, tests and results are the emphasis, then the learning we do by exposure to life as a whole will always be undervalued, and this to the detriment of society as a whole.
The whole 'no holidays in term time' issue spins on the axis of learning versus teaching, but it's probably best not to get me started on that particular bit of insidiousness...