#rhizo14 - How I was forced to become an academic (which is in a way an independent learner)

Once upon a time… 😉

Monika is attending her first university seminar

And she is VERY proud of doing so. This as she just moved from a very tiny village there were just three persons having attended university and those being male. Anyway. First question the lecturer is asking is „What does a child learn at school?“.  A lot of really knowledgeable answers are given. Like „The child is being socialized“ or „The child is learning conformance“. A lot of students are dropping names to support their statements. I snap up names like Bourdieu, Durkheim, Hurrelmann, Erikson. I write the names down into my otherwise untouched daybook.

I took all my courage to add „Well, a child does learn to read, to write, to calculate“. For any reason - may be my strange accent - the whole class was laughing at me. I looked puzzled. And understood.

Straight after the session I went to library. And ordered at least one book authored by the names on my list. My first semester I spent my time reading each of them. I interacted with books. And can’t remember having interacted with any other counterpart than them.

I was forced to become an independent reader because I wanted to be like them. The students around me.

Monika is looking for the fundamentals of educational sciences

2 years later. A lot of seminars later. Back in my tiny village. Summer break and the sun is shining. My dad asking me „Monika, tell me, what is it what people know after having studied your subject?“ It took me quite a while till I could express an answer. „Dad, all of them know different things. As far as I can see, there’s no canon. There’s just different perspectives on issues, they are all interested in.“ My dad douted. And asked me to find out till winter.

Back at university I went again to library. Fetching dozens of books about methods and theories in the field of educational sciences, about famous educators and about history of education. In winter I was ready to provide an answer.

I was forced to become an independent reasearcher about the fundamentals of my subject because my dad asked a simple question to me.

Monika is ready for writing her thesis

Another few years later. I passed about thrice the number of seminars I would have needed and still felt not ready to register for my final thesis. Again I took all my courage to ask my professor I was just handing over to a research paper (the first time I ever addressed a professor at university). „Dear Sir, as you have had a look into my reasearch paper, do you think I am ready to register for my finals?“ He looked at me, thought about a min and just said „Yes, you are“.

I was forced to take the next step by a simple „Yes, you are.“

Monika is exploring this internet

Quite a while after I had finished my studies I found out that people were thinking aloud within this internet about subjects I still was really interested in. This time I even didn’t have to catch all of my courage. Because they did it in writing. It felt like talking to a book…. and getting an answer out of it referring to my comment. And I first time in my life tasted the joy of …. social learning. And am still overwhelmed by.

What Monika made an independent learner

In a nutshell Monika became an independent learner not just by the lack of any supportive structure provided by university (today my guess is the opposite is the case) thus also meaning having the room to develop at her own pace AND (and that’s the point) by the help of human beings. By them laughing at me, by them asking me a simple question, by them replying to a comment.

It’s basically YOU guys taking part in #rhizo14, it’s blog posts like them of @jaapsoft, like Jennys‘.




Filed under #rhizo14, MOOCs, Social Learning

4 Responses to #rhizo14 - How I was forced to become an academic (which is in a way an independent learner)

  1. I really love this account of your learning journey. I’m hoping to share it with my first year Education Studies students… So glad to have met you on #rhizo14. Best wishes, Sandra

  2. Monika
    Thank you for sharing this powerful post. I was seeing this as a journey of discovery that you are on, and are probably still on (and may be for the rest of your life). Your father’s question — while simple on the surface, is complex on the inside — is driving you forward in some ways, and how we become independent is (ironically, perhaps) driven by the expectations of others. I guess that isn’t always true but it can be. We often become independent to prove ourselves (and who are those students, anyway, to laugh at your comment in that first year … that’s just terrible and maybe a bit indicative of the academic climate).
    Keep moving ahead …

  3. I love this post and the way you have used your own story to think about ‚enforced independence‘. But I still don’t think you were ‚forced‘ to become independent, unless we are thinking that you forced yourself.

    But from this story you are certainly seem to be an autonomous learner. You chose not to be ‚put down‘ by the laughing, but instead to do the reading; you chose not to ignore your father’s question but to think about it carefully and so on.

    But I’m also wondering if there isn’t a bit of luck here. How lucky to have a father that ask you a question that is just right for you 🙂

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