Multiple personality: Me as a student vs me as a learner

I think I may have a multiple personality when it comes to me as a student and as a learner particularly when I consider how I see the different roles of student and learner and how I conceptualize and practice those roles. Many of my thoughts around this possibly stem from my concept of a student. Currently I view a student as someone learning in a more formal context such as this course. A learner for me is someone engaging in growing their knowledge in an area of interest. Student and learner overlap as in both situations you learn however for me the term student infers a more formal approach and learner a more relaxed, user driven approach.

Here is where I start to struggle as to my role within this course, the learner in me wants to explore, bookmark things I find interesting so that I can come back to them later, I build myself a resource about education. My learner self knows that I can’t know everything, that I need to pick and choose and build myself a resource that I can come back to at a time when I can use it, making the learning authentic and therefore increase the chance that I will remember it. My student self however feels that I should be reading everything, making notes, referring and linking to articles in all my posts, with my posts being more academic in nature than they currently are. The difficulty I have is that this is not my instinctive way to learn, in fact I have always struggled in the academic world (even as a child).

Thinking about me as a learner more and my past experiences of learning my reflections reveal that the times when I feel I have learn’t the most or when the learning has been most transformative have been in less formal study, they have been when I have engaged in life long learning. To explain this a little more my background is in healthcare as a registered nurse, now unlike many nurse educators I am not an accidental educator (someone who found themselves working as a nurse educator because they were the next senior person when a position came up), my transition from working clinically on the wards to supporting staff working clinically on the wards has been planned but I share many of the same experiences as the accidental educators. When I started in the role the only formal training I had as an educator was my Cert IV in training and assessment, everything else I have learnt about education has been transferred knowledge from other studies eg. child development or educating parents, bereavement training or from my own search for knowledge. I am naturally an inquisitive person and telling me I cant do something at times can be like a red flag to a bull, is this due to nature, nurture or a combination of both?

Now within nursing we are taught as an undergrad to engage in life long learning. It is difficult as a nurse to not be a life long learner as there are constantly new medications, procedures, techniques, treatment combinations that we need to be knowledgeable about , we also have a requirement for professional development to maintain registration. Due to these factors I have engaged in alot of more informal learning through reading, conference attendance, preparation for presentations to colleagues, through quality improvement projects and corridor consults with medical and allied health staff (usually discussing a particular case). Nurses (myself included) also engage in reflection as a form of learning and while many nurses still struggle to document their reflection it is becoming more common place and is part of the skill set taught to undergraduate nursing students. I therefore identify with Brendon’s blog and Anneliese blog comments about the power of reflection and blogging as a way of learning, I have been using reflection for a long time, putting it into a blog is new and something I am keen to share with my students as a way of keeping reflections. Due to the personal nature of reflection I think there is a fear associated with blogging particularly in a public space, this is definitely something I felt initially however I am starting to embrace it more and more.

Learning seems to come more naturally to me, I like to be able to link the theory and practice and I think that this is where I struggle with the concept of me as a student because I can read articles, understand them but until I get that idea or see how the concepts in the article relate to my teaching I struggle to integrate the knowledge and more importantly remember it. I think that is one of the things I am finding with this course there is so much interesting information being shared and much that I identify with but until I actually use it, can implement the ideas, tools ad concepts into my role as a teacher I won’t fully realise my role as student.

My experience as a learner and a student impacts on my role as a teacher and while they may stand alone they are highly interconnected in my world therefore I think my multiple personality will stand for a little longer.


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