This year I finished a cooperative degree program and it has left me convinced that a 'combination education' (i.e. work-study-collaborate) is exactly the breath of fresh air needed to revitalise the student experience.
Boredom, anguish, and frustration are three emotions that are particularly common among mid-program students. But need they be so prevalent? My experience points to the challenge of change as a solution to the deceleration that besets us all in the journey of education. I’ve had changes of friends, colleagues, learning environments and residences, all of which have reinvigorated my learning experience. In fact, I found even little changes like the time that I head off to campus can materially change my productivity. The value of change is certainly not a new one, but perhaps one we overlook when it comes to our learning patterns.
Now before all responsibility is shifted to the educator, consider, when was the last time you researched an area of interest to you? When did you last seek out a professor to discuss an idea or topic? It is well known that the differences between active and passive learning do show up during university, but what is less commonly noted is the dip in motivation that tends to accompany it, and perhaps drive those declines in performance. This is where, for me, changes of scenery are most effective because they build your capacity to face those obstacles that wore you down. Now I understand not everyone can pause their studies to enter the workplace full-time as I did, but they may be able to take part-time role, they may be able to make friends with senior students or they may be able to find an interesting mentor. These measures may not seem directly meaningful to the initial challenge, but they do make an impact on the mindset with which that journey is faced.
Mentors, I feel, should be sought in all areas of life. I know that for certain, I’d not be where I am without spiritual, professional and personal relationships. The key, there if there ever was one, is learning where to go for counsel and being deliberate in broadening your horizon with an evolving learning pattern and a changing environment. I was reading recently about physical learning spaces and there was a note made by the author that actually it’s the lower performing students that tend to benefit most from new learning spaces! To me that came as no real surprise, because a new space can bring with it a new frame of mind, one that is timely for those previously in (mental) spaces that caused them frustration.
Embrace change and seek it out. It’s not about losing persistence or giving up, its about freshness and combination learning.