My career in Higher Education started in 1997 when I undertook a professional role as a Librarian in the Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. Teaching students was a natural function of my librarian role; it came about as a need to “educate the Library users”, smoothen their transition to Higher Education and address their steep learning curve regarding subject-specific resources. Having served in the Central Library of the Theology School for eleven years, I decided to move to London in order to re-establish my relation with my profession and seek learning opportunities to expand my career.
Very soon, I joined the Birkbeck Library, realising my dream to engage into teaching mature learners and be involved with what had already evolved as Information Literacy. A significant number of these learners are seeking a second educational chance in their lives and have joined Birkbeck as a result of the Widening Participation strategy of the College.
Through this journey, I realised that the teaching function not only enriches my career as a Librarian but results in a deep sense of satisfaction and meaning. It challenges my mind to respond quickly to the unexpected, and my heart to connect with their struggles, on a daily basis.
I still believe that education should widen people’s horizons and Higher Education in particular should help students discover their talents and build upon them; challenge their assumptions and transform the “deep-seated feelings and motivations” (Reece and Walker, 2006). My teaching therefore endeavours to first reach what Mezirow described as “communicative learning” in order for them to make sense of “how to do things” at a later stage “Instrumental learning” (Mezirow, 1990).
One of the sources of the deep satisfaction as a teacher is the stage when students reach new meanings through interpretations of the world and gain a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons behind these new meanings. (They know “why”).
(To be continued…)
The Readings below helped me make sense of my teaching experience:
- Mezirow, J., 1990. How Critical Reflection triggers Transformative Learning In: Mezirow, J. & Associates, ed. 1990. Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood: A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning. J San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, p.214-216. Available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/description/wiley035/89039667.html. [Accessed 18 May 2012]
- Reece, I., and Walker, S. 2006. Teacher training and learning: a practical guide : sixth edition. Sunderland: Business Education Publishers.