Uwingila mumushitu tomfwa nswanswa – Bemba Proverb
This week I have been in class for the start of the second module of the Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCert). The focus is on developing teaching practice and theory to improve capacity to provide an enabling teaching environment for students and teachers. The programme supports us to develop skills to keep the fire burning for learning to happen.
Yesterday’s session was a Forest School. So, for most of my collegues this was fun. But the idea of woods and forests makes me very anxious and stressed because for me woods are wild dangerous places. That may sound ridiculous but in my mind this is real, despite the reassurances I got that this is a place kids as young as 5 come to for school activities. In the end it turned out to be more like a farm with lots of trees and logs to sit on. I was relieved to be done with it.
The teacher said ‘be yourself’. I followed that advice and I was who I was, an adult who is uncomfortable in the glorious woods. What I forgot was to think for myself and do what I should have done to enjoy this outing. I love fantasy stories and some of my favourite things are Tolkien tales.
Thinking back, I realise that for me, being myself was not a suitable approach. I think if I had pretended to be Eowyn or Turiel or even Pippin I would not have had so much trouble with being in the woods. In the end I was frozen and stressed and itchy. I forgot to put on my character!
So my lesson from the forest school is be what you need to be to flourish in the moment. Teaching and learning is a performance, take on the relevant character based on the environment and task at hand.
The proverb above translates roughly as ‘one who enters a thicket should not heed the sounds of the creatures’ lest you get nervous and abandon your mission.