And if we are working with clients making decisions about money, it is important to recollect our money story, our money history, too. As I wrote last year:
Most of us have strong feelings and attitudes about money. Some of us are very aware of those feelings; many of us are not. For those of us in the ranks of service professionals (e.g., lawyers, mediators, accountants) unawareness can impact how we work with clients who are making money-related decisions. Might part of excellent client service be our own clarity about the way we perceive money, wealth, and monetary earning? To have an unclouded view of our underlying assumptions? Our values? Our prejudices? Our biases? Our personal money stories?
The benefits of this degree of clarity applies to many topics. Even beginning or experienced photographers! In fact, earlier this month I recommended to attendees at a program that I presented on photography that they write their photography story. I gave them a long list of questions to help them get started and was pleased and admiring of their introspection as they applied it to the process of using their cameras in new ways.
I just learned of another use of this kind of themed memoir and doing so resulted in a slap-my-forehead-and-say-duh moment. Why wouldn't those of use who are interested in improving both how we learn and how we teach write our learning history?
The idea came to me from Well-Chosen Words. In this book, the author recommends to teachers that they recall report cards and other instances of assessments from their own schooling. This exercise can assist teachers in considering what might be helpful when communicating assessments of their students.
I began to think of my own learning history: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I revised some questions I use for money, conflict, and photography stories in my training programs (see a few below), and thought about my answers. Just as recalling and pondering my conflict and money stories have helped me in work with clients, I think the process of recreating my learning story will help me to be a more self-aware teacher, trainer, and adult learner. If you write or in other ways memorialize your learning story, I would enjoy hearing from you.
A dozen of the many questions I asked myself:
- What is your earliest memory of learning?
- How do you define learning? Has your answer to this question changed as you grew older?
- Was learning important in your family when you were growing up? Describe the degree of importance and give some examples.
- Is learning important to you now? To your friends? Your colleagues? Your current family? Your community? Your work environment?
- What are the benefits to you of learning? Has your answer to this question changed as you grew older?
- How does learning challenge you? Has your answer to this question changed as you grew older?
- Has your interpretation of, or reaction to, a learning experience ever changed with time? Tell about the change.
- Has learning ever caused you to be happy (in childhood and/or later)? Sad? Embarrassed? Proud? Have other emotions? Give some examples; tell those stories.
- Do you think you are a competent learner? Worse? Better? What are the behaviors or results that lead you to your assessment of your level of skill? Has your answer to that question changed as you grew older?
- How do you define teaching?
- Has teaching ever caused you to be happy (in childhood and/or later)? Sad? Embarrassed? Proud? Have other emotions? Give some examples; tell those stories.
- Do you think you are a competent teacher or trainer? Worse? Better? What are the behaviors or results that lead you to your assessment of your level of skill? Has your answer to that question changed as you grew older?