Monday, November 9, 2015

Coloring Outside the Lines

One of the best things about teaching young adult learners is that I learn a lot in the process. Between the books we read and the supplemental information I seek out in order to teach classes, I get an education in the process of giving them one. 

Often, especially in my freshman seminar, our discussions are illuminating as well. I think the shift away from the pressure of content-driven instruction capped off by an exam has something to do with it. We read books (most of us, anyway) outside of class so that in class, we can link concepts to research and other ideas, including their own opinions. A particularly enlightening discussion earlier in the semester, for example, led to the idea for an article I had published in Faculty Focus last week. 

Tomorrow we are coloring -- not for the whole class period, but for a portion of it -- as a means of exploring the balance between work and play discussed in our current chapter of The Happiness Project and a lead-in to a homework assignment on scholarly and credible sources surrounding the current coloring craze sweeping up many adults. I'm excited about this activity, as I have been about so many others this semester, and I can't wait to see what they do with it.

While there's certainly a science to teaching, and many important foundational skills that need to be taught in a freshman seminar (or any class, for that matter), it's the art of teaching that draws so many to the profession and keeps them there. I wasn't as brave as many of my colleagues teaching at the elementary school level; when things began to look bleak, I saw an open door and dashed through it, rather than staying where I was and pushing through. The decision was good for me on so many levels, yet I still second guess it sometimes because, on a practical level, the logic has plenty of holes in it. 

Especially when you consider the fact that I didn't get far, leaving one position in education for another -- one with less security than the one I left, and with a steep learning curve to boot. And I never thought I'd be breaking out the crayons again.

But when I think about it, I can't imagine any better metaphor for the not-quite-retired parenting/writing/teaching life I'm currently leading -- one where I'm working harder than ever, but having fun in the process. 

And if I can pass along a bit of the enthusiasm I have for living life outside the lines, perhaps my crazy exit plan makes sense after all. 

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