“Learning is a voyage, you are at the helm and your choices are the shining stars”
– Scholarly Hub
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why I am an advocate for Education?
Read my Story
Founder of Scholarly Hub
Certificate IV in Liberal Arts
Diploma of Education Studies
Bachelor of Education (P-12). Graduated university with 90%.
Completing Master of Education – Minor thesis topic: Improving literacy outcomes for STEM Education (La Trobe)
July 2022 – Commencing PhD
- Qualified Secondary School Teacher
- Major: Applied Linguistics
Completing Year 12, I wasn’t keen on pursuing further studies. In 1997, I completed my VCE in a well-established Catholic School. Despite knowing I am a great learner and I love learning, most days I was bored at school. Partly, it stemmed from not being understood as a learner, lacking motivation, goal and passion.
After an education gap of 12 years, I returned to schooling because I wanted to improve my social standing. I completed Certificate IV in Liberal Arts then a Diploma in Education Studies which had a direct pathway into Bachelor of Education P-12.
While it took longer to attain my Bachelor’s Degree, I was not deterred for a moment because I had gained a sense of direction and clarity on my life’s purpose. I knew I wanted to become a great teacher one day but that required becoming the best learner. Further, I was determined to improve my life and of my new born. I gave birth 3rd year into my degree and after taking leave for a semester, I returned to my studies part-time. During this period, my marriage ended. Despite all the emotional upheaval, I didn’t give up my studies.
At the time, I didn’t know what the potential of the Education course would do for me but I took a chance and never looked back. It has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. Each day I was in the presence of greatness. People who inspired me without knowing their impact of teaching and story telling. These are highly gifted and compassionate lecturers at Victoria University who illuminated my path in the darkest of times. You never know how far a teacher’s wisdom, support and guidance can take you. I was inspired by their brilliant minds, their thinking, and lectures on lofty ideals that instigated my own calling for social justice, equality and equity. The highlight was always thinking outside the box to solve problems on societal issues. I started to feel inspired, gained my passion and purpose for life which fueled my desire to become a lifelong learner.
The institution became an emotional and mental refuge for me and it was through the dedication of all my lecturers in the Education Faculty that I graduated with High Distinction (HD) – 90%. It is what we gain from the institution, with the right effort that determines our future successes.
Learning was never about just passing a subject but deeply learning topics that would inspire me to become a better human being.
Education changed and transformed my concept of self.
The self that is able to achieve, overcome adversity and reflect the ideals of compassionate, care and inspiration in the world. There are always some circumstances and situations that prevent us from tapping into our full potential and we hold on to those events that dictate how we live the rest of our life.
I witnessed many adversities at school including in my own life as a student, as a teacher and as a human living in this world. There needs to be a paradigm shift that is reflective of a education system that is compassionate.
My mission in life is to become an instrument for healing student learning. We don’t need to feel overwhelmed by this system but rather use the system to liberate ourselves.
The person that you are today, has tremendous potential to transcend the current and impact the community, society and the world in great ways. All you will ever need is self-belief.
During my teaching years, I always took a stand for students in class or at school. However, my capabilities as a teacher would be limited if only relegated to a classroom. Students need to network, to collaborate, to become global learners.
After completing my degree and becoming a teacher in a secondary school system immediately after, it allowed me to translate those educational theories independently and collaboratively towards improving student’s educational needs. I gained life experiences that taught to me more about myself than I realised at that time.
Scholarly Hub is dedicated to those students who fought and are fighting to give themselves every opportunity to succeed whether it is in the field of academic or not. Scholarly Hub is dedicated to those students who are experiencing adversities but show up to school hoping they can also improve their lives and break cycles.
Education helps to build critical and analytical thinking, we learn to distinguish between facts and opinions, develop critical consciousness in society and ultimately improve social standing giving us access to more opportunities and resources.
However, the current gap is a compassionate system that caters to all students. Once we can support student’s emotional wellbeing – having their voice heard, seen and validated and build resilience through growth mindset, only then will learning become purposeful and rather than an overwhelming experience topic after topic and grade after grade.
Establishing Scholarly Hub is in dedication to my younger self who was lost in secondary education and as a teacher, I realised not much as changed for students in the current system, even after 25 years. The struggles remain the same and now the gap has become even bigger.
Ms. Radhika Kumar
My vision for every learner entails self-transcendence. With proper guidance and assistance, every learner has the capacity to reach their highest potential. My vision is to assist students recognise their passion, spark curiosity, ask questions to expand their thinking, explore their minds so they can become great thinkers by looking at way to problem-solve, lead by action and become pioneers in this world.
A shift in paradigm for recipients of education is necessary for humanity. By using knowledge to cultivate a world of infinite possibilities for our children. The world is ultimately the by-product of our actions. So why not direct our education towards uplifting ourselves, others and the world we live in. We can drive a positive narrative for our children – a place to can live joyfully, with peace, love and care for others and self. A place our children and generations to follow will reap the rewards of the legacy we will leave behind.
If we can leave anything for our children behind, it would be a better world for them – a place they are safe, seen, heard and validated.
Due to many constraints of education, it seems we are moving away from the basics and it is time to create that shift for our children.
It is time!
Maslow Theory of reaching your full potential
If we consider the above diagram of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-transcendence is also a human need that refers to our potential. Reaching an ultimate level of consciousness that is able to relate to overall existence is an innate need – to connect to other species, nature and the cosmos cultivates a strong sense of belonging in the world (Maslow, 1971, p. 296).
Self-transcendence is the peak experience of human existence. When we transcend self-interested pursuits, we obtain higher level of existing in this world. By fine tuning our perception in alignment of collective existence, we experience joy, peace and harmony with not only the self, but in appreciation of self that co-exists with others without a sense of separation. In this mindset, we can harness our desire to service humanity in pursuit of philanthropic endeavours.
Initially, it all stems from self-belief. This is at the heart of human purpose, to attain joy and human evolution. Everyday spent at school, we can recognise the steps as building blocks necessary to reach these heights. Why should we settle for anything less?
We know students get distracted at school because throughout the day there are so many variables to consider when a child enters the school grounds and all these have an impact on learning whether positive or negative.
Bureaucratic agendas, school agendas, curriculum benchmarks, lack of funding, resources, teacher connectivity, standardisation, peer pressure and school bullying are just some variables that hinder student potential and may cause emotional upheaval, yet some easily categorise these as growing pains of secondary education and students must simply learn to cope in order to build resilience.
However, Scholarly Hub takes the stand that the only growing pain a learner should be experiencing is grappling with ideas and knowledge in an inclusive environment. Education system, schools, teachers, peers, parents, community and society as a whole must scaffold the child instead of burdening them.
As there are many disconnections on the collective level, a learner finds it hard to balance and merge the many aspects of learning that happens at school, at home and in the environment.
Scholarly Hub initiatives encourage:
· Students to attain the skills to think for themselves
· Overcome fear of judgement
· Transcend fear of failure or even fear of success as this is the story of two sides of the same coin. When students learn with fear of success and failure, they do not take risks in learning, they do not speak up, they do not engage because they fear rejection
· Parents must nurture risk-taking in learning, not to be discouraged by grades or their children’s learning level at that current time. Early intervention can support and guide learners.
· Students do not need to feel defeated by grades.
· Networking and becoming local and global collaborative learners. This is an empowering experience for learners to be able to collaborate at a local and global level. Diversity is our strength. By engaging in various cultural background allows students to see through the lens they have not explored before.
A metaphor for learning
During the first year of my teaching degree, I was asked to create a metaphor for learning. I could only reflect back to the days when I was a student in secondary school as this is the time in space I needed to heal.
While I was training to become a teacher, I recognised the wounds of education and the healing that needed to take place. When I did enter my own classroom, I recognised that while the educational theories and concepts helped me to heal and validate my trauma related to education, the current educational system in itself has not changed much in its delivery.
Grades and assessments continue to define a learner which is not a correct representation of all student skills and capabilities.
Therefore, the above metaphor depicts learning as a voyage in the storm.
The storm is the disconnect, dissatisfaction I was feeling about my learning which impacted my education. Every circumstance and situation that prevented or limited my potential to succeed at the time and this continues to be the narrative for many students in secondary education.
How to navigate through the storm are the shining stars depicted as choices in my painting. The choices summons inner strength, courage and bravery to survive the storm. The ability to recognise guidance and support to propel learners toward a triumphant journey, who are able to overcome any adverse situations as problem solvers.
There is no doubt learning is arduous. However, the missing component to education is emotional connection to learning. Students need to be shown how to navigate emotionally through the content not mentally because learning then becomes memory based and a robotic experience whereby students are simply regurgitating information.
With the many educational theories supporting that every child has different ways of learning, however where is the support for learners who learn slowly to just choose an example. The outcome for that child simply is a fail in the education system.
It is not necessary a slow child is less intelligent than a child who is quicker. The quicker child may not necessarily understand its process. (Hatch, T 1994)
While there are many theories supporting engagement in the school setting, change is very rare.
Figure 1: Serpentine Galleries
Paulo Freire (1921- 1997) called this system of education as an oppressive system that is dehumanising students. Paulo Freire argued that human liberation and transformation of the society will not happen unless the oppressed develop critical consciousness. The critical consciousness he is referring to is student’s ability to recognise constraints in society and these constraints limit human potential.
• Students are not developing critical consciousness to overcome adversity, oppression and poverty, they are merely regurgitating the information back rather than thinking for themselves.
• He makes no distinction between slaves and students. He regarded education as a banking system where teachers input the information and students reproduce the exact information rather than having agency over their learning and becoming co-creators – collaborating, being expansive and cultivating ideas into action.
Immanuel Kant, an early 19th century Enlightenment thinker once said, quoting a Latin poet “Aude Sapare” – Dare to Think (Kant, 1784, as cited in Porter, R. 1990).
Revolutionary as it may have been at the time to understand the nature of self – knowledge, it contributed to the anticipation of humanity’s great leap forward into the unknown. Today, in the 21st century, while much as changed or unchanged as some may argue, I do not stand far Kant’s thinking:
• Dare to question the prejudices
• Dare to use reason and logic
• Dare to think for yourself
Further, Jean-Paul Sartre would argue, failure to make a choice, is a choice in itself which suggests living in bad faith or dishonouring the self by refusing one’s freedom to choose (Sartre, as cited in Lee Bowie, 1992).
The question then arises, what does it look like for a learner, who, in the midst of this storm chooses not to take the helm?
Often in a classroom, students misconstrue a teacher’s position. In that, students believe a teacher who often stands in front of the classroom, is directive has power and authority. This imbalance of power holds student back from exploring their thinking. They are being asked to think in a particular way which may differ from teachers or between teachers. Therefore, student never get to hold the helm of their own learning because there is no ownership.
If students can overcome such thinking and direct their power back toward themselves, become bold and fierce learners, students will never fear failure and see learning as only a process, not an outcome. Otherwise what we often experience in a classroom is students becoming passive learners, leading them on the path of complacency as adults living in this world seeking the same classroom dependency in workplace, their relationships and through life.
Therefore, once students learn how to navigate their own learning, they can become constructive, learn by action and discovery. This gives students ownership over their learning.