Why I Went Back 2 School

Even though I have never really left school, I decided to return to formal education to get a Masters in User Experience Design at Kent State University recently.

The day after I officially enrolled in my program I read a great post from Gerard Dawson on LinkedIn about why he left teaching after 10 years. It really resonated with me because of the cruel irony in what he exposed. We think of schools as a place for learning and growth but as a teacher myself that is far from what I have experienced.

My quick math shows that I have endured about 1,000 hours of ‘professional development’ during my career as a high school teacher, which roughly equates to a cost of $50,000 to the tax payer. Unfortunately, this development is usually a meeting rather than a genuine learning opportunity.

How can we expect teachers to foster growth in their students without providing and promoting it for them?

We as teachers need both the time to grow as professionals as well as the space and opportunities to advance into if we want to effectively model lifelong learning for our own students.

As I finish up the first week of my Masters, I know I am just getting started on this journey but I already feel the energy of being surrounded (yes, I know it is 100% online) by a collective group of individuals dedicated to learning and exploring ways to grow their craft.

What really struck me from the first class discussion about why we were in this program is that many students in the class were not necessarily here to get a new job but rather to get better at their current job. We share this drive for improvement and new skills that can make us more meaningful contributors in our positions.

I think this perfectly connects back to the argument Gerard was making when he highlighted how many teachers want to do more and be more in the profession but the system does not encourage that. It is not necessarily about a different title or a pay raise but the new challenge to grow into and chance to utilize skills and experience in a novel way.

In UX, I am seeing that as the core drive that motivates every decision and one that we desperately need to incorporate into our traditional educational system.

Schools must become learning organizations.

Otherwise, our teachers will become another ‘subgroup’ that fails to meet the performance standards no matter how much individual promise or potential exists.

So I guess it is pretty simple- I went back to school to learn because working at a school does not provide that experience.

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