When kids ask about your job!

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I’ve learned that
people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel
– Maya Angelou


I always smiled when my kids asked me “Dad what do you really do for a living?” 

I guess kids talking at school with their friends often bring the conversation about what “Dad’s or Mom’s Jobs”. I know from the tone of their voices, there was a level of frustration as they weren’t able to clearly define the nature of my profession.

I must be fait and confess that if in the last 25 years of professional activities I did work in the education field, I was often having a specific role within this industry, from trainer, to coach, facilitator to instructor, then to teacher, I also had various mandates to work in the courseware design, instructional design, storyboarding, and information management as well… So very true, my kids were right not knowing what to answer…

Such question was in fact a source of continuous thinking, and of course a family discussion, I tried with all possible details to explain that I was in the education field, but it always seemed confusing for them, as they were looking, most probably like other kids’ parents who had a clear defined title such as: manager, specialist, doctor or engineer, etc. Their dad was “working in something that was not clearly defined!”

Yes I was making a living ad yes I had a job, a position and even a title. Yet, this job of mine was changing every time I was given a mandate to teach, train or educate.

For all these years I worked, in fact I was meeting people, learners who were attending classes in order to collect something new that would benefit their life, their jobs and eventually their careers.

Being an educator can provide a sense of power. Power over what people still don’t know and expect you to show them or explain to them. According to my vocabulary this cannot be the proper of teaching. If knowledge provides means to empower people, then knowledge must be available to all people. Learning can be done through books, listening and watching videos, going to a library. There are many ways to collect knowledge, there is one way to learn such knowledge!

Teachers, or educators have more to do than to transfer information and facts, they have to show people what knowledge is and help them learn the way they need to learn. Develop their sense of curiosity and motivate them to always ask questions and get enough convincing answers from all the sources they can use.

We often strive to discuss about sophisticated technologies to learn, or define new approaches to teach, sometimes we go for years of studies and specializations, getting amazing titles, awards and recognition. However how much do we learn about people as people? I think the only time we do so is when we put aside all of our collected knowledge and listen to people, observe them the way they ask questions, encourage young children to seek for answers of so many unknown, engage them to develop their sense of curiosity and never take for granted what someone did say because he knows better than anybody else.

I will always feel grateful to one of my teachers who replied to one of my questions, his answer was somehow “enough blunt” to disturb me, especially coming from an educator, he just said “Sir I am not paid to make you understand, I am here to deliver the course content. You may go to the library if you seek for more understanding!”

It was like a slap on my face, but at the same time I realized and understood what would be my career ! That day I decided I would become a real teacher, a true educator and a dedicated trainer.

What I learned from the various years teaching and training, was to earn respect and trust from my students. Such earning had to be renewed every class, every course and every time I had to meet people to share what I knew that was important to them. In other words , show to my students what I expected from them by first “preaching by example”!

Each time I get into a discussion with peers or former co-workers, I love to bring the definition the Greek culture gave to the world about “Pedagogy”: to lead the child, that is the essence of the meaning. Of course leading a child to discover, to enquire, to learn from his findings and be able to be confronted to situations where he will have to make a choice understanding his actions and their consequences.

So the answer today to my kids, is that I am still involved in education, yes I have a job, a job of passion, the passion of people!

Michel – January 20, 2015

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