The Influence of Our Children: “Transformative Learning & How We Came To Basic Education” 

First, a correction. In our last posted story, I said Andrea Jonasson–the practitioner who encouraged Billy Castel to submit his story—was a counsellor. My mistake. Andrea is a basic education instructor. My apologies. However, let me again thanks Andrea and Billy for last month’s powerful story.

You may remember in the first installment of this series, Dr. Patricia Cranton explained that transformative learning may occur as a result of a single event—a so called, “disorienting dilemma”—or, it may be the result of a series of “disorienting dilemma” events. Either way, such “deep learning” means a person comes to “see the world in a different way, or perhaps [will] see himself or herself in a different way.”

Last month we saw how Billy’s relationship with a new, caring, partner lead to a radical change in Billys’ ways of seeing. His  “habits of mind” were changed irrevocably. As Billy concluded: “If I was given a second chance to change the time I spent with her, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Turning to this month’s installment, we have two stories from two BE learners who asked to remain anonymous. Like Billy, each describes how they came out of extremely difficult backgrounds. They each go on to explain how the world seen through the eyes of their own small children brought about a transformation in how they saw the world and themselves. Just like Billy, they effectively came to basic education as changed people.

Our sincere thanks goes out to these two remarkable students for sharing with us and to the BE practitioner who encouraged them to submit the two stories…that follow.

Do you or your learners have a story of transformative learning? Contact me at [] or Jacqueline Bruce at ‎[]‎ for details and story guidelines.

All the best in 2016.

Allan Quigley and the SARN Team


 “I Don’t Want To Be A Hypocrite:” The Influence Of Our Children:

I grew up in an unstable home. My grandparents were alcoholics and barely home. I went to school every day but as a teenager I got into my rebellious stage. I started cutting class, hung out with wrong crowd and everyone just gave up on me. I met and had kids with my first love. We lived with his mom and two siblings which one of them had a baby also.

We lived in a 3 bedroom house on his reserve. After a while stuff happened and we separated. I moved back with my family and that wasn’t the best decision. I struggled to get on welfare and find a place. The only way I was going to get help from welfare was to do job searches and find a job. They would supplement the rest if I didn’t make enough. I can’t recall how many times I applied and got accepted into school and dropped out. My family filled my head with negative thoughts and at this point I didn’t have the drive, the motivation or the confidence.

I can proudly look back now and say to myself, “What was I thinking?” In Basic Education today, I am almost done, 2 credits to be exact. Coming back to school wasn’t the easiest task I had to face. Especially having kids at a young age, no family support and not having a positive role model. I don’t want to be a hypocrite telling my kids to finish school and I didn’t. I want to be their positive role model. I want to be able to support them without the struggle. I don’t want to be at a dead end job for the rest of my life. I want a career that I love.

Coming to ABE has helped with my confidence and I am looking forward to getting into post-secondary. Before this, this would have been something that I could never imagine. With the help and support of my ABE instructors I have the confidence to be proud of myself. Like what I always say now, “It’s better late than never!”


“A Better Future For My Family:” The Influence Of Our Children

When I was 16, I became a young mother and dropped out of school to care for my baby. I had no family support or encouragement to go back to school. As the years went on, I and my boyfriend had more kids and our family became bigger.

I did a lot of thinking and wanted to come back to school but it was a struggle having children to care for at the same time. Living on welfare was not doing any good for me and my kids. I really needed to get back to school so I can have a better future for myself and my family.

I made the decision that it was time for me to go back to get my education. Coming back to school has given me great opportunities and has opened a lot of doors for me and my future. The instructors and staff in the program I am in are great. They have given me a lot of support and are helping me to succeed in getting my education.

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