The Best Teachers are Lifelong Learners

Learning shouldn't stop after a formal degree, despite the implicit message the degree sends to do so.
Learning shouldn’t stop after a formal degree, despite the implicit message the degree sends to do so.

So I’m taking a PhD course called Adult Learning Foundations. We’re reading authors such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Sharan Merriam, Malcolm Knowles, and David Kolb (as well as stuff about Mezirow’s Transformative Learning).

One of the overall themes I’m getting from the content is that the idea of lifelong learning and continuing education (not necessarily formal CE, by the way) is way more important than most of us adults think.

Our brains, our souls, our bodies, everything about us is built like a learning machine. Our brains have neuroplasticity, which means our brains physically change as we learn new things, like working muscles in a gym and physically changing our bodies (Merriam, Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, 2014, p. 171).

We as adults tend to view education as something that starts and stops. We matriculate in a school at one point in our lives and then graduate with a degree or certificate at a later point. Something about that system communicates to us that we have somehow arrived at a destination and have officially “banked” (to use Freire’s term) a wealth of knowledge that we then use and distribute throughout life.

But that view does not take into account that we are dynamic, not static, beings. I believe God made us as lifelong sponges – with tremendous ability to continually grow in knowledge and wisdom, always learning and questioning things.

And those kinds of learners make the best teachers. The best teachers are always learning – from both their students and from the world around them. We are, after all, expecting our students to LEARN something. So effective teachers lead by example and show their students how to learn. What is the best way to do that? Be a learner yourself.

1 response to “The Best Teachers are Lifelong Learners”

  1. Tim Avatar

    Hi Jesse,
    Thanks for passing along this post! It is clear from the post that you are enjoying learning….and that modelling makes your reflection that much more compelling.

    Many years ago a friend in musing about heaven said that he thought we would keep learning through all eternity. Lifelong learning plus an eternity of learning sounds pretty wonderful.



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