Weekly reflection: paying it foward

I love the concept of pay it forward. Perhaps it’s because I spent so long travelling last year where I often ended up giving up advice and tips to people in the knowledge that at some point I’d probably need assistance myself at some point along the journey. Sure enough I ended up being pick-pocketed (in Auschwitz of all places) and didn’t have any money to bus back to the hostel to grab my emergency credit card. The travel gods eventually answered my plight and a group of Kiwi backpackers sprung me the change to get back into town and everything eventually worked out.

The reason I bring up this story is because this week’s course work focused on the history of New Zealand’s education system as well as a discussion on learner diversity. During my undergraduate degree the vast majority of my papers were in educational policy, New Zealand politics and sociology. Hell my Honours dissertation was an analysis of how school choice empowered student demand in New Zealand schools during the 1990s.

So when it came time to study the history of New Zealand’s schools and constructing learning identities I found myself, well to be honest a bit bored. I had collected the course credits and felt reasonably up to speed on the subject matter. I quickly realized that re-learning material in a half-hearted manner wasn’t really a good use of my time.

Fortunately my course has an online student Q&A forum, so I decided to start answering some of the other students questions on the forum. Doing this helped me re-engage with the material and hopefully my answers helped other students.

I don’t bring anecdote up to talk about how I rock but because it made me realize that teaching is really the ultimate pay it forward profession. I know a lot of people get into teaching with the ideal that they are going to transform lives, and that ideal  is important. But my goal is quite simple: I hope someday one of my students might remember something I’ve said and passes it on to someone else.

If there is one quality that we often forget to mention that makes a great teacher, perhaps it is to be humble. Knowing more than others does not make your superior and not sharing your knowledge in order to look better than others benefits no one.

After all, I know at some point I will ask a question on that forum.

3 thoughts on “Weekly reflection: paying it foward

Add yours

  1. Love that you took something which could so easily have been a negative and turned it into a positive experience. Sometimes it is worth the effort of looking hard for these golden nuggets of information in the most unlikely of places. From my own experience as an education lecturer, I once had to sit through an entire day of lectures and workshops on how to plan lessons after spending 15 years teaching, just having completed teaching this to my own trainees all semester and in the process of marking 5000-word assignments on exactly that topic. Painful!

    In the most boring workshop though I had an epiphany, realising that I could apply my lesson planning skills to an entire university module rather than seeing it as a sequence of lessons. Managed to write an entire module that evening and I think it’s the best one that I’ve produced. That day ended up being well worth the initial pain. Hope you manage to keep looking for the silver linings 🙂


  2. Hi Cat,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and for dropping by. I think one of the key things for a successful learner and for that matter teacher is to be flexible in your approach. Especially when you find that something isn’t working for you.


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