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Advice From My Favorite Teacher
July 17, 2012 - 7:54pm

During the extravaganza known as Blackboard World, I was asked to share "the best piece of advice that a teacher ever gave me." Pondering the question for a moment, my thoughts turned to someone who I've always thought of as my favorite teacher. To most people, his name was Clyde. For me, he'll always be known as Grandpa. My grandfather didn't go to a fancy college. His traditional education was limited in that he didn't graduate from high school. However, as the son of German immigrants who farmed land in Iowa, his learning was largely experiential. His financial acumen, knowledge of machinery, and wisdom were generated via decades of hands-on experience.

One day while chatting at the kitchen table with my grandfather, he gave me advice that has reverberated throughout my career: "stay in school for as long as you can." As an undergraduate student, who had never planned on anything school-related post Bachelors, I shook my head in agreement and kept on listening. Little did I know at the time that what grandpa was sharing was the concept of fostering a lifetime of learning. He knew the value of always being open, ready, and willing to learning. Grandpa Clyde epitomized his own advice. A natural troubleshooter and the smartest "uneducated" person that I've ever known, he literally lived to learn.

In higher education, we often talk about instilling the value of lifelong learning into our students, our fellow practitioners, and ourselves. However, sometimes I wonder if we act upon this value. Learning requires time and awareness. Wearing many hats, do we have enough time to learn during our 9 to 5? And, with enough time, are we engaging in a critical awareness of what we're learning? Grandpa Clyde was on point when he told me to "stay in school"…classrooms can be found wherever you go and sometimes the best teachers are of the nontraditional kind.

What's the best piece of advice that you have received from a teacher?


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