Re learn: When you really learn

                                                                 Elsa Anna Simon

8 years back, with bare minimum understanding, I joined the course of my dream “Architecture”. Today in the same institution, where I walked my baby steps, I support a bunch of newbies as their faculty.

What made me write this is when I started thinking about learning.

There is no limit to learning. Back when I was a student I laid a base to the process called learning. Let us assume this process to be like baking a cake. A perfect cake requires a set of ingredients in specific quantities. Let these ingredients be all the subjects that a student undertakes during the course of their five years at college. The next procedure is to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients. This I consider as applying the knowledge of my theory subjects to the subject of Architecture Design. Obviously, the right amount of ingredients blended well gives a tasty mixture. Once the batter is ready, the master pours it into a cake tray. Before placing it for baking, the batter is leveled and checked well to ensure there are no air bubbles. Likewise, even students are put through various tests and training and bring out the best in him/her. Finally, the cake is baked. The master pricks the cake with a toothpick to see if it’s cooked to the right doneness. An overcooked cake is no good as it becomes dry. If undercooked, it needs to be put back in the oven to bake it through completely. Similarly, upon graduating from college, some feel like they are on top of the world, while others feel they haven’t achieved anything. Whatever the case may be, if the cake is baked by the right hands, it will always taste good; like a good tree bears a good fruit.

Now, you might be wondering, why I went on describing the process of baking. Well, in my case, I was in the right hands. My initial days of architecture made me ponder if I was in the right place. Like a crutch to support the disabled, I had a huge support that pushed me to always work hard and put my best foot forward. Despite all the flak that I received from the others, there was one teacher who would often reassure me, saying “you are doing your best!” The teacher whose door was always open, the one who listened to even the smallest story in my design and gave me encouragement. Never did I have to wonder if I was in the right place.

The same man after two years, gave me a call to join the institution as a faculty. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher, but I knew it would be a good start for my career. I asked him, “What makes me a teacher? Am I fit for it? How will I teach?”. As always, the reply came with a smile, “nobody has learned anything fully, what you could bring is a behavioral change in your student”.

The conversation ended, but my mind still wandered with thoughts. As my days as a teacher began, those words kept resonating in my ears with each passing day. The first batch of students that I got to teach was the new admission of 2019. I found myself back in the same old classrooms which used to be my classrooms as a student. The same old teachers who once taught me are now my colleagues. During one such day, one of my colleagues, who was also my teacher asked, “What have you learned? I replied to her “the whole experience is re-learning for me”.

What is re-learning?

Let me get back to the statement my professor made about ‘behavioral change’. I thought about it and rewound my student days. How was I influenced? How did I learn? What motivated me? What took away my fear? I could find answers for all these bemusing questions. Then when I looked at each one of them I could see their eyes glistening with the same bewilderment and curiosity that I had as a student. At that instant, I realized the reason for my being there.  It dawned upon me that I had started learning with them. I then knew how to be myself and immersed myself completely in guiding them. This is what I really learned – my re-learning.

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