During this academic year, we have been exploring the topic of transformative learning. This topic was suggested in a readers’ survey conducted last year and, since SARN’s mission is to explore research that can help our field, this seemed a natural for 2015-2016.
We know that a great many of our learners leave literacy and basic education programs as very “different” people. We hear all the time from our learners—and practitioners too—that they are changed as a result of literacy and basic education. Many say they leave as better people with a clearer sense of self and their future. Literacy and basic education provide far more than the acquisition of academic knowledge alone.
But why? How? What can we learn from these transformative experiences? What actually brings students to sign up for and come to adult basic education? Then, what actually brings about the radical transformative changes within programs?
Back in October 2015, Dr. Patricia Cranton—a world authority on this important new area of research and theory—explained how transformational experiences may occur as a result of a single event (a “disorienting dilemma”) or through a series of events. Sometimes called “deep learning,” such a experiences will typically mean the person “sees the world in a different way, or perhaps [will] see himself or herself in a different way.” Often for the rest of their lives.
We saw Billy’s story last November. We then saw how two young women (who chose to stay anonymous) came to BE as a result of their children. We saw the incredible story of how a “momentary death” on the operating table brought Phoenix to basic education and then, last month, how Brenda Wright became committed to working in the field as a result of working with her students in Fredericton, NB.
Now, we turn to stories from learners within our literacy and basic education classrooms.
Here now is Lynn’s story (fictitious name used). She shares her experiences at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus in Prince Albert and we thank Lani Scragg, Education Counsellor at that campus, for encouraging and helping Lynn to share her inspiring story.
Thank you Lani! Thank you Lynn and every success in your new career!
The SARN Team.
“Don’t ever give up on dreaming about a better and brighter future”
When I started at the Prince Albert Sask Polytechnic for the ABE 12 program in 2015, the first day was exciting and nerve-wracking. I had low self-esteem about my learning performance. I had quit school in grade 11 when I was pregnant and had another child two years later. I started working in 2001 when my oldest child just turned one. I worked for 13 years. When the company I worked for closed, I decided it was time for me to return back to finish my Grade 12.
Returning to BE and What Helped Me Succeed
The instructors have helped me through with words of encouragement, extra assistance and after school learning. Many, many times I had become discouraged with homework. I had not taken the biology or chemistry pre-requisites and the course content was very demanding and difficult. The study skills I learned helped me pass the courses.
By the fall of 2015, I had achieved results in the harder classes and started to feel more confident about my future. The small group and more relaxed classroom setting helped to make me feel comfortable. My fellow students helped with encouraging words and by sharing notes.
I was not sure what my future career would be and I started to investigate some options with the Saskatchewan Polytech Career Counselor in Prince Albert. Together, we came to a decision that I would be best suited to work in Early Childhood. I want to work in a school setting as an education assistant.
Mapping the Future and Transitioning to a Career
The process of career counselling helped me to understand my own strengths, interests and goals better. In the Mapping the Future workshop held by the counselling staff, I listened to Basic Education graduated students talk about their success in post-secondary training and discussed how to get into the workforce. That really helped me realize that there is no limit to learning or gaining experience.
During the end of my last quad, I realized that, through all the struggles, it is worth it. I will be finished my program at the end of January 2016. I can gladly say, “I have completed my Grade 12.”
The Influence of my Children
My children are my inspiration and I kept on pushing myself to do the best I could. My children are helpful at home, by doing chores. We study together at home and help each other. This makes it easier for me to study. They are witnessing that education is important and that they too need to complete grade 12.
Don’t Ever Give Up
Each day, each step has been another great accomplishment in my life. Learning each day is a credit to my career goal.
Thank you to the Polytech teachers and counsellors for giving me strength in pursuing my life long goals for a better future. When I finish upgrading, I plan to work in the city. This summer , I will be relocating my family to another community, to join my fiancé. There, I will be starting my post-secondary training if I am accepted.
Don’t ever give up on dreaming about a better and brighter future.