Learning Becomes Us

Learning Becomes Us
By Lois Brown Easton, Past President, Learning Forward Colorado

I was reading a second- or third-rate novel I had picked up in desperation in the airport one day. Suddenly, I got to a part that made all the over-drawn characters and the overly coincidental plot worth the read. One character said about another, “Learning becomes her.”

I was struck by that description. How nice that learning became her, just like a red hat or pearls or a nifty haircut or tie. She was enhanced by her learning. She was better because of her learning. In another sense, she became a learner. “Become” is one of those “to be” verbs that results in a predicate nominative (although I hated to teach grammar and resisted it in favor of writing, I have to admit that I understand grammar). “Learning is she.” “She is learning.” Or, “She = learner.”

I thought about schools, first of all about my own, last school, Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park. With its emphasis on re-engaging students in their own learning, its motto might be “Learning Becomes Us.” In one sense of the word “becomes,” Eagle Rock tries to help students who have dropped out of school understand how learning enhances them as individuals. In the other sense, successful Eagle Rock students become learners. They think of themselves as learners, some for the first time. They resurrect the curiosity they lost somewhere in the educational system and become active agents of their own learning. They are learners.

Of course, I thought about the adults at Eagle Rock, my former colleagues, some of them, others known to me only by name. The motto works for them, too: “Learning Becomes Us.” As instructors as well as members of a professional development center, the adults at Eagle Rock are enhanced in their profession when they think of themselves as learners, when they deliberately put themselves onto the path of learning, bucking the wind and even the recycled snow that pelts them from the mountaintops — for learning is hard! They take risks to be learners, just as students do. Learning requires considerable persistence and bravery for most of us.

And, then, of course, I thought about all the adult learners with whom I work and that brought to mind my colleagues at Learning Forward Colorado. We would not be members of Learning Forward Colorado if we were not convinced that learning becomes us. We know that Learning Forward Colorado helps us continue to learn professionally and to encourage those around us – colleagues and students – to learn. This next year – as Learning Forward Colorado helps professional educators continue their work in a climate that might oppose professional development through policy or practice – I hope you can remember the phrase “Learning becomes us.” Use it to remind yourself and others why we are all engaged in our work the way we are. We are enhanced by our learning. Our colleagues are enhanced by their learning. They are better for it.

It makes me smile to think that learning becomes me. I hope it makes you smile, too.

P.S. I dragged myself through the rest of that novel but found no more gems. The book ended predictably and the characters have fled my mind. I left the book in a hotel room somewhere.