How important are the people we educate and care for?


Image Courtesy:
Mississippi Department of Education

I would like to start this paper with a partial summary of the plot of the movie “Wit”. It was playing very late last Saturday night. At first I was just looking for a movie that would help me fall asleep! But a scene from that movie caught my awake brain and glued me to the screen till the last second of that movie, inspiring me to share this paper with you!

As she grows increasingly ill, Vivian agrees to undergo more tests and experimental treatments, even though she realizes the doctors treating her, including former student Jason Posner, see her less as someone to save and more as a guinea pig for their treatments. The only person who seems to care for her as a person is Susie Monahan, one of the nurses on the staff.

Late in Vivian’s illness, the only visitor she receives in the hospital is her former graduate school professor and mentor, Evelyn Ashford, who reads her excerpts from Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. As she nears the end of her life, Vivian regrets her insensitivity and realizes she should have been kinder to more people. In her time of greatest need, she learns that human compassion is of more profound importance than intellectual wit



I would agree with readers if this introduction does not relate at first to education, I had the same reaction when I decided to share my thoughts with you, wondering where it relates to educators, specialists and learners. It took me a certain time before it made sense to me, before I found a reason to write a paper about how important is knowledge but how more important is the care we add when we provide and share our knowledge to people. If the movie spoke about medical specialists who were more interested to consider their patient more of a “subject” or “an individual” to help them advance in their research for a cure about fatal illnesses, it did not mean that patients would not deserve compassion and human care. How often in education, learners are left on their own, and are looked at as “subjects” “individuals” How often these people are left alone caught between the four walls of their loneliness!

The great majority of education specialists (all disciplines), strives to promote and offer the best possible means in education to allow learners gain knowledge that would provide them a better wellbeing n their present and future life.

The more skills specialists will engage to the definition of a better education the higher the risks will happen to provoke a sort of disconnection from the real world. Being taken into the details of technicalities, could favour better solutions however it could also mean that people who are supposed to be at the center of their thinking may be forgotten for the sake of such technicalities (aka programs, scenarios, processes, protocols, research, results, analysis, etc.)

How many excellent and outstanding papers and studies are made available publicly and how little such lack to speak about learners, about people.

When I read some of these papers, I always try to measure the level of “care and compassion” within such studies.

Sometimes I feel being a witness of two worlds that hardly can speak to each other: the amazing richness that experts bring to solve and nurture education, where on the other side people learners) are unintentionally forgotten as people!

There is a prevailing discomfort I can touch from this situation, as I always ask myself for the reasons that can be the cause. Is it perhaps – at least for me – specialists are so much taken in their work, getting themselves far from the earth to earth realities?

Measuring, quantifying and observing results is a very important thing to do in order to come up with suitable responses to the needs of today’s education, yet it remains caught in the realm of theories that need to be proven in the real world.

I remember during the early days when I developed programs for adult education, the best audience I had to measure how effective were these programs were my young kids.

If they could understand what I wanted to teach to adults, it meant that other people could learn as well. I used to call it, and still do, my “secret recipe” if I may use the expression.

A recipe that consisted to ask myself, before starting any learning development: “If you want to teach to students regardless of age and status, then you better learn like students learn, if not you rather change your approach if not leave this job and go do something else!” For some of my fellow colleagues I was “the guy who set the bar too high!” Some gently refused to train learners after standing classes with me, as the level of expectations from their trainer was accordingly demanding! I could not imagine this profession of mine to be less than that, I still believe that education will never make a teacher become a rich person, I do consider the wealth of education is the satisfaction in bringing people to a better wellbeing.

Isn’t education the best gift educators can give to learners? There is no magic in saying such, I guess.

Can’t we just look at education differently from other businesses? Yes education can be seen as a business but not just as any ordinary type of businesses, education’s business is people’s wellbeing and their discovery of happiness. Nobody will deny specialists the recognition of many merits of their expertise and the depth of their knowledge. All what they need now is bridging their knowledge to people!

Michel – December 29, 2014


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