By Deirdre Godwin, Program Assistant, Professional Development and Training, Faculties of Health and Human Services& Trades and Applied Technology, VIU

Life is a learning experience. When I was growing up, I always swore that I would never be a teacher. My father taught for over 30 years in the Nanaimo District, and I guess I saw some of the downsides through his eyes. Although he loved his career and excelled at it, I was pretty convinced that it wasn’t for me. I still think I was right. Although I am not a teacher, I have found myself in education in a support staff role. It has its downsides, but basically, I love my career, and I think I excel at it.

From time to time, I have been asked to identify the best part of my job. I have two immediate answers. The first one is the students. I love helping them on their own paths to new things. That may be a new interest, a new skill, or a new career. It may be a first step towards more learning. Another “best thing” about my job is the variety. In other words, I have lots of opportunity to learn. This can be exhilarating, scary, satisfying, and sometimes downright annoying, but I am one of those people who believe that learning is essential to living.

My own department uses the term “life-long learning”, and I think that captures what we do very well. We offer non-traditional learning experiences. Most of the courses we offer are not “Monday to Friday”. They often take place during evenings and weekends, fitting themselves in and around our students’ lives. Many of these people have already done a lot of learning in their lives, some of it formal, some of it “school of life”. They come to us for change, and we try to nurture that. This is never a one-way street. I constantly learn from students, from instructors, from coworkers.

After all, learning is a life experience.