Memories of learning

This is the 7th post in a regular feature Over a cuppa: prompts to reflect on learning and teaching during the time it takes to make and drink a cuppa. Cross-posted from Teche, original artwork by Fidel Fernando.

What are your memories of learning? How have your assumptions of learning been shaped?

This post follows closely from the previous reflection on your university story. It is another approach to reflection based on storytelling. In the AdvanceHE guide Reflection for Learning, Marina Harvey and colleagues call these reflectories.

I still think about a conversation I had in 2018 at the International Academic Identities Conference at the University of Hiroshima. It was prompted by a presentation by Susan Carter from the University of Auckland called Pushing Academic Identity Development Further: imagination, creativity and ensoulment.

Carter asked a series of questions which she has published as a reflective exercise in her 2020 book Academic Identity and the Place of Stories:

Review your own childhood learning story: what troubled, bothered or eluded you, and what did you like about learning in your early years at school? … What did you misinterpret at school? What did you really like, understand and enjoy doing? Remember playing as a child: what games did you play, and what did you learn from them? Were the rules well established, or did you and your family or friends make them up or alter them? How did you agree about the rules (or did you)? How do these childhood experiences underpin who you are now?

In response to this prompt, a colleague and I discussed schooling, childhood games, the spaces we occupied, the games we created, and the rules we followed and refused to follow. His memories of learning as a sole child of older parents involved a lot of team sports and board games. This has prompted him to always look for the rules and follow them in order to succeed. My memories were less rule-based and more immersed in imaginary play. With two bothers close in age (my parents had three children under three), playtime was loud and continuous.

We carry these assumptions about rules (and their bendability) into our learning as adults. What can your reflectory teach you?

Carter, Susan. (2020). Academic Identity and the Place of Stories: The personal in the professional. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.

Postscript – my father read this post and pointed out my Freudian slip – bothers instead of brothers!

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