It's the Journey, Not the DestinationJ. Ana Donaldson | 2011-2012 President, AECT
I’ve been asked to share my thoughts and experiences with you. Before I start offering thoughts, experiences, or even the “not-to-do” lists from hard lessons learned, I think it is important to share with you the way that I’ve reached this place in my multi-hued life. I jokingly tell friends that I’m now in the midst of my seventh life, each more diverse and challenging than the one that went before. This brief introduction will share just a few of those lifetimes.
The one constant in my experiences over the last 60 plus years has been the importance of learning. I was a child brought up wrapped in the optimism of the Eisenhower era. Even from an early age, I can remember pretending to be the all-knowing “teacher” to a group of my younger sister’s friends who were gathered at my feet. The mid-60s found me living in Haight Ashbury with the requisite hippy beads, lost days, and way too much patchouli oil. This chaotic time of exploration and independence taught me that acquiring personal knowledge often comes from experiencing the richness of unexpected opportunities. The fog of that unique time lifted enough to lead me into the world of computers and a new life consulting within the corporate world.
My joy was defined as I found myself a corporate trainer traveling the country with a briefcase and too many nights alone in hotel restaurants. Watching information transforming into practical knowledge intensified my quest to find innovative training approaches that went beyond the traditional flipchart of the day. My journeys eventually lead me to a very special man living in a barn in the Midwest. Al brought to our relationship a strong analytical mind combined with a passion for teaching. I had always been looking for mentors along the way, now this special man became my teacher as well as mentor in learning the important lessons in life. He reminded me, as an adult learner, of the significance of experiencing the journey and not just the destination.
I returned to college as a junior after a 25 year gap. As a returning non-traditional student I found myself focusing on learning and not the grade or instructor approval. Professors were questioned and ineffective instruction was quickly identified. I drew upon my past corporate training experiences when sharing examples of course concepts with my peers, while moving from computer science to the field of instructional design at the university. Collaborative study groups and discussion allowed my learning to go far beyond the limited opportunities that were offered in the classrooms. My quests for answers eventually lead me to earn my doctorate. As an adult learner, I continue to seek answers as I embrace the title of “life-long learner.”
Author Perspective: Association