Where I live, the day after Labour day, today, is the first day of school. Been like that forever. (How do schools deal with going back in August? That weirds me out) Even though there’s been no first day of school for me in eons, I still get a funny feeling the day after Labour day. A little bit of anticipation, a little bit of dread. School was never my best pal. Every year I thought things might be different ‘this’ year and it never was.
I’ve been out of school for eighteen years. The parting was not a happy one, rather a five alarm chaotic disaster in which I flung my bruised and broken brain from the burning building vowing never to return. No, the path of traditional learning and I were not pals. Are not pals. I would not give traditional learning a glass of water in the desert.
And yet, I love to learn. Every day at Theatrefolk we’re learning something new, whether it’s a new marketing strategy, or how to present our plays at a conference, or how to workshop a new script. It’s exciting to learn on your feet. To try something new. To make a mistake and learn from that. There is so much to learn out there; it would be foolish not to be open to every experience. People who stop learning, stop growing.
I also love to teach. I adore being able to pass on my skills, to teach others how to write a play, how to explore characters and script analysis. How to find the path that was previously covered and dark. It’s thrilling and again, I learn so much every time I step in front of a group of students.
School does not have to take place in a classroom. That’s what I learned far too late in my past educational experiences. There are other ways to learn. Sitting and listening to a teacher is not for everyone. School is more than a building. I wasn’t able to figure out how to make the most of my education beyond the building. Beyond the classroom. And I worry a lot about students who are forced to learn within one classroom bound method.
When I teach now, I make it my responsibility to be aware of how students learn. There’s handouts for those who need to process at a later date. There’s talking points for those who like to write things down. And there’s lots and lots of practical exercises for the learner who need to do instead of listen. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the ‘I got it’ light go off in a student’s eye.
As another school year begins, we’re getting ready to start a busy conference season. There are new conferences, new plays, new selling techniques, new ideas, new workshops. We’re very excited at all of this ‘new.’ We can’t wait to get started. Will all of it work? Nope. We’ve made enough mistakes to know that not everything does, despite all the research and all the set up. But I know that whatever happens, we will learn. We will never stop learning.