Friday, 16 July 2010


or what life long learning looks like for most of us

You'll be relieved to hear that 'androgogy' is not a character from a science fiction novel.

Or disease.

I was introduced to the concept of androgogy (adult learning) during a very dull lecture series at university. It was so boring my friend Jo and I would sit right at the back and make notes from textbook for our other modules. And text our friend Paul about weevils eating our brains. It was that bad.

However, the concept itself peaked my interest. I LOVE learning. I wasn't all that good at it at school; I was dyslexic and didn't know it, and was distracted by bullying. I found solace in writing, skipping from Grade 2 flute to Grade 5 flute in a year, and learning instruments I liked the sound of instead of concentrating on what I should have been. I left with one A level in art (C), an AS in biology (E,just) and an AS in music (D) that I decided I wanted to take at 17 having never done GCSE. I'd have done better in that if the music history teacher had taught us anything; a U in one unit does rather drag down the other B and C. Another overall D grade.

Canbury gardens, Kingston

At university I struggled with the amount of reading and writing, an endless cycle of failing and re-taking modules. I passed all the practical, but was finally forced to leave 6 weeks from the end because I'd failed too many credits. It was heart breaking in a number of ways. I'd failed yet
another thing. But Jesus had brought me home and had given me a place in an amazing family.

Sovereignty of God conference, Easter 2005, Shropshire

I felt like my opportunity at education had passed. I'd failed my A-levels. I'd failed university. I felt I had very little to show for the previous five years.

I worked for GAP. I started learning the trumpet. I nannied for two very cute kidlets. I passed a St John's First Aid at work course and was so proud to have succeeded at something I cried and thanked God for his kindness. I dabbled in learning a language, then another. I joined John Lewis. And I struggled horribly. A department manger saw potential no one else had, including me. I moved sections and found a place where I could fitted in well and flourished.

But I still worried about the time I was wasting working in retail, surrounded by people killing time before finding a 'real' job. I started learning Biblical Koine Greek.

A labour of love

In September I moved in to a new house with six other people. I cleared out lots of stuff. My friend Ellen moved in to the new house too. I was living with an English, Christian girl for the first time in three years. And five Koreans girls, but the Korean part was normal for me. My room is huge, light and airy compared to anything I'd ever had. And a garden we were allowed to play with.

Then I was offered the opportunity to train as a manager. It had a profound affect on me. I made me consider that sometimes, despite our best efforts, good things happen. And that it's okay to be excited about them, and not catastrophise about what might potentially go wrong. Lots of women seem to struggle with this. It's a safety mechanism for me; so many things went wrong when I was growing up, it was just less crushing to expect the worst before it occured.

But it's no way to exist, I promise, because whilst pessimists are seldom disappointed, you miss so many good things.

Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, October 2010

When I say good things, I don't just mean becoming a manager. I mean loads of other stuff I had stopped thinking about because my only concept of success was based on receiving a piece of paper. What do I mean? I mean learning as an adult is so much broader and far reaching. It's about relationships with friends and family, learning patience, humility and compassion. It's about God's plans for you, which aren't necessarily the ones you had for yourself. It's about giving of yourself to other people, loving them when it hurts. Scraping dirty dishes, standing up for others, being discreet, sharing with them when they are hurting, smiling day after day and being cheerful. In a suit. Out of suit (hopefully wearing something else instead!) God presents us with opportunities to learn to be like His Son at home and at work.


And the point?

I am learning. Every day. God is teaching me. The opportunities to learn are endless. They are unplanned for the most part, but some times making the best use of them requires a good deal of effort. Keep asking questions. Be curious. Expect Him to challenge you. Enjoy being a student in the school of life. Be kind to yourself, ask for help, seek forgiveness, start again in the knowledge that you aren't alone in this; Christ goes with you. As Rachel from over at Small Notebook pointed out in her post about 'The difficulty of doing less', the problem is is that if we try to have or do the same as everybody else, we miss out on the joy of doing what we are uniquely gifted to do. God knows us best, not society with it's expectations.

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