After attending University to study Business Management, which I enjoyed thoroughly, I was offered a place on an ‘Active Learning’ Master’s Degree. This was based on group experiential interchange, where six individuals in different business environments would meet regularly and discuss, question and exchange experiences and problems in their respective industries.
This was under the guidance and direction of a ‘Learning Contract’ that would ensure the various academic requirements for Postgraduate study were met.
I found this method of study to be the best I have ever participated in, I found it beneficial, relevant and a real pleasure. I would strongly support the ‘Active Learning’ as a framework that could be extended to cover many different subjects.
A member of the University of Northampton Alumni e-Mentoring scheme. The aim of the mentoring project is to enhance students’ employ-ability skills, enable them to gain a realistic perspective of the workplace, give them experience in networking, and boost their self-esteem and confidence when dealing with professionals.This relationship is built on mutual respect, constructive feedback and a willingness to learn and share.
I find the interaction with the students I mentor to be of great benefit, not only to them, but also to myself. Wherever issues in learning are addressed mutually, the learning is also mutual. Therefore, I feel that the students contribute as much as I do.
Personally, I consider the most valuable asset that I have acquired, is the learning that come with all the situations that I have found myself in. In time, I have been able to reflect on everything that went wrong, everything I got wrong and everything that is wrong, allowing me to decipher the causes and effects of my, actions, other people's actions and ultimately, my reactions.
Having grown up to Cypriot born parents, their influence, their aspirations and their cultural mindset that dictated my life throughout my youth, but ultimately, led to decisions I made because of them, despite them or even to spite them, that not only had a profound effect on my life as a young man, but also to this day. In recent years, the connections that I have made with other people in the same situation, has made me realise that I was not the only one in this position, but on the contrary, I saw a familiar pattern and I was one of many.
I have also found it very interesting, as well as informative to have observed how we have all reacted to cultural pressures in a different manner. People from different walks of life, with different circumstances resulting in different outcomes, but the underlying common denominator remains the same. In my case, it was not simply about shaking off the cultural influence, but embracing it without allowing it to dictate to me, it is a fine line and it is certainly a very fine line between living one's life by following destiny, or living it by capitulating to cultural pressure
During my school years, I often struggled to retain information in mainstream education. At that time, there was no facility to assess student's learning styles, or their strengths and weaknesses. It was not until years later that thanks to the information age, I began to realise that the issue was not me, but was in fact the antiquated teaching methods that were applied in schools that did not suit my personal learning style.
From the mid 90s when I had access to the internet and everything that it had to offer, I slowly realised the effect that access to knowledge in a manner that suited me, would have on my life. I can honestly say that I was addicted.....ever since, research and learning has been by far, my greatest pastime. When I made the decision to go to University as a mature student in 2002, it was an awakening, I not only enjoyed it, I loved it. In fact, it was such a labour of love, that I excelled and was rewarded a year later with a direct place on a Master's degree course.
Although my chosen subject was not vocational it was Master's in Professional Development, this was an academic milestone. This course was not only about professional development, which could be applied, or inspired in others, it was also an experience in my own personal development, which changed my outlook about myself, others and life in general.
I feel that it was the learning style that was the key factor to an 'Action Learning Degree' that made all the difference. Unlike traditional learning, which involves, lectures, research and regurgitation of academic writing, this was based around 'experiential learning' primary data, followed by discussion and interaction. For me, the difference between reciting something I have read, or been told and discussing, analysing and learning from something I had experienced, was huge. It is very sad that there is not more opportunity for this sort of learning. Far too many students are written off with a diagnosis of A.D.D. when they are not to blame.
It is for this reason that I am such an avid supporter of the QCF (The Qualifications and Credit Framework) as opposed to traditional University Degrees, because for many subjects, the learning can be work based, giving students real world experience, along with an upwardly directed career, an income, greater appeal in the employment market because they have been putting their learning in to action and last but not least, they are not saddled with debt!
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
~Leonardo da Vinci ~