On finding my passion for teaching

As I said before, my path was rather unexpected. I’ve always had a desire to teach, that has been the one constant. I just somehow never really thought about the fact that it was the constant. I began with a passion for art and thought I would like to teach that. Then I had a passion for religious studies and thought I would like to teach that. Along the way I never spent enough time thinking about teaching though.

I think this is one of my biggest disappointments with higher education, this lack of time spent talking about teaching. The focus is most often on research and publication and even on service. I have been lucky to have professors who wanted to talk about teaching but when I look at my studies? So often it was secondary or just assumed. It was up to me to find time to do that or to just figure it out. It was sort of a trial-by-fire sort of thing. 

In a conversation with a friend today, I heard something that I think we need to think about more. That teaching is integral to research. It got me thinking about how important it is to be capable of passing on what we know and value. Yes, most of us learn about being good presenters and we learn to write. We are pressured to publish. What about the next generation, however? How do we inspire those who will take our research forward? How do we convey our knowledge to them and prepare them to continue?

It took me a while to realize that my interest was in that area. I could find people to talk about research, about our overlapping topics. I found it rare, however, to find someone who wanted to discuss how to teach. When you are busy marking exams, you talk about that. Not about methods of guiding learning. 

So for me, my acknowledgement that I no longer wanted to complete my dissertation came long before I realized where my passion actually lies. In fact, it was a job that truly unveiled my direction. Instead of beginning with the desire, following through to formal training and being hired that way, I’ve gone a circuitous route. I found my training along the way in bits and pieces. I got the job. Then I realized that I had found my passion. 

I want to talk about teaching. Ilove talking about teaching. Specifically teaching higher education and adults. I wish I had taken more time to do this along the way but I was blinded by the focus on research. It was only as I did more teaching that I was able to realize that that was what I loved. Then it was only when I was encouraged and supported to research and learn about teaching that I recognized my interest was in that.

So now I need to find a way to remain connected to this passion, preferably in a way that also helps pay the bills. But this is a passion that I know I will continue. Perhaps a Masters in Educational Technology? Or Instructional Design? The thought of taking classes again is a bit daunting but having credentials is a definite bonus.

Regardless, I’m a convert. So I hope that someday I can talk to you about teaching. 

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