"To understand is to stand under which is to look up to, which is a good way to understand."
- Sister Corita
It's National Teacher Appreciation Week. I have so many teachers in my life from whom I learn and grow from; my yoga teachers, my business coach, my mother, and my students to name a few. Teachers exist in all areas of my life. But in order for them to teach me, I have to orient myself to their wisdom.
What does this mean? I like the Corita Kent quote above; "To understand is to stand under which is to look up to, which is a good way to understand." To engage in the rewarding, lifelong learning journey, one must always remember how to be the student. And to be a student, one must position themselves for learning from the teacher before them. We must stand under and look up to, with reverence, what the teacher is trying to impart to us.
As my kindergartner and fifth graders navigate through their grade school years, I've had a lot of thoughts about how to foster the innate love of learning that we are all born with and tragically, for many of us, fades or becomes completely extinguished by one or a collection of negative experiences with education. How do I keep them hungry to learn and support their instinct to dig deeper when a subject excites them?
Over the past several years I have budgeted healthy portions of my time and money pies to my own continued learning. I value lifelong learning and hope my children learn from my own example to never stop growing and seeking deeper knowledge in their subject or subjects of interest. Every week I attend classes, and many weekends I spend in workshops.
I have a yoga mentor who I train with every week and I can't tell you how valuable this relationship is to me in my life. The teacher/student relationship can be very rewarding. Not often do our friends and family members share our same interests. It can be a very deep and meaningful experience to find a mentor who can take you further in your own educational pursuits as well as someone with whom you can dialogue, bounce ideas off of, and who can reflect back to you where you may be stuck or misguided.
In yoga, our aim to make the body more supple in hopes that it will have the same effect on the mind. Lifelong learning can have the same effect on the mind; we condition ourselves to the learning process which innately invites a certain flexibility and agility to the mind. In the learning process we take risks, we make mistakes, we adapt and modify and try again, and eventually we perfect.
I have all sorts of students I teach and I can tell those who are lifelong learners versus those who aren't. There is a certain rigidity that takes over when one stops the active learning process. There is more aversion and attachment. A good student should be able to learn from any teacher. The difficultly is positioning yourself to that teacher. Which requires a certain flexibility on the student's part.
Every week, give thanks for your teachers. And also, to the good students who bend their ear in just the right way to listen to their teacher.