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For now, forget grades and focus on learning

An open letter to my post-secondary students

Dear learners,

It’s finally arrived. The ‘real’ new year, when you head back to campus and trade summer jobs and weekends at the beach for classrooms and trips to the library.

Am I killing your buzz? (#SorryNotSorry) I love summer too and filled up this one with copious amounts of my favourite things: travel, outside play, art and culture, books, food and drink.

But I am now ready for fall. I look forward to getting back to class mainly because I love learning. And when I’m teaching I’m learning as much or more than my students.

That’s why I’m challenging you to tweak your thinking about back to school. It’s not the end of a great time; it’s merely a shift to a different kind of great time. One that hopefully fires up your curiosity and imagination. One that gives you new skills that you can capably apply to real-world problems. One that gives you knowledge to critically question, challenge, and contextualize information.

Last week I attended a two-day workshop on teaching skills for new university teachers facilitated by Mount Saint Vincent University’s Teaching and Learning Centre. Now three years into my teaching career it was useful to learn new strategies and remember to focus on the process of teaching and learning as much as the outcomes. Focus first on learning and I bet you will find the grades will follow anyway. 

Education is about more than putting in the time to get the degree to later get the job. My main goal must be to support you in your learning, and your success will come through the learning, more so than the grade. Learning is a process of expanding, not jumping, and we will stretch together.

As Henry Ford famously said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Let’s begin!

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