What leads someone to teach?
Many teachers and professors dedicate their lives to studying a topic and seek to impart that knowledge to others. In short, for some, teaching is about transmitting knowledge to students.
When I majored in music education in college my thinking fell along those lines.
My goal was to fill my head with facts and information
which I would one day pour out to students.
In the ensuing years, I learned a far different perspective about teaching. These words of Plutarch are etched on the ceiling outside our college dean’s office and illustrate that perspective:
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
Put another way Audre Lorde said:
“The learning process is something you can literally incite, like a riot.”
These words relate to three reasons why I teach for Penn State’s online certificates in fundraising (one graduate and one undergraduate). They are also why my consulting business tagline starts with the word teach and I offer what I hope are engaging workshops.
- Teaching isn’t about me; it’s about people who are on fire with the desire to learn.
When I teach I provide the kindling including lesson objectives, learning materials (readings, videos, articles, bios of professionals), case studies, and other scenarios.
- Students provide the kindling that fuels my desire to learn.
Spoiler alert – I don’t know everything! In fact, the more mature I become the more I realize what I don’t know.
Teaching isn’t a one-way activity. I’m grateful for that because I LOVE to seek input and I need to keep on learning. (See Strengths Finder to learn about input).
Students from varying disciplines offer information about everything from leadership to HR to higher education and more. Board members who might be just learning about fundraising ask thought-provoking questions.
Sometimes those questions lead me to look to other professionals for answers, people like Michael Rosen, Pamela Grow, Viken Mikaelian, Brian Saber, Jay Le Roux Dillon, Debra Valentine-Gray, and Malaika Turner. Thanks to all of them and others for sharing their wisdom.
- It is a joy!
Students bring the energy and excitement that many of us had when we first started in the profession. Reading their comments about a concept that clicks is gratifying. Seeing someone’s thinking and the sophistication of their work progress over the course of a semester is a joy.
It’s also particularly exciting when someone obtains a hoped-for position, in part as a result of taking a course or earning a certificate. In other cases, it’s wonderful to see a nonprofit raise greater sums of money when we together learn about and implemented a new fundraising method. It’s equally exciting when I’m asked to take on a new endeavor such as helping with a nonprofit name change (see Charity Channel articles about one example of a name change).
What about you? What work related to fundraising and advancement gets you up in the morning? I hope to hear from you.
Sophie Penney is a life-long learner and the Senior Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn State’s all online certificate programs in fundraising (graduate and undergraduate). She is also the founder and president of i5 Fundraising.