Left to right: my grandmother, “Po-po”, and I; photo of my first professional development workshop on SmartBoard technology; and sharing my newly-acquired Smartboard knowledge with my fellow teacher candidates the following week.
“Live until one is old, learn until one is old” was a Chinese proverb I heard often when I was young. Teachers recited it to encourage student learning, and parents and elders would repeat the phrase as praise. My grandmother, in particular, demonstrated such wisdom.
As far back as I could remember, my grandmother, or “Po-po” as I called her, was always enrolled in a class. When I was learning Chinese phonetics at age five, my grandmother enrolled in my kindergarten class and learned alongside me and the rest of kindergarteners. I thought it was strange at first, but I quickly got used to the idea that Po-po likes to learn. She rarely mentioned it, but I know she only completed grade five before she had to leave school to help with housework and other chores. As a girl born in Mainland China in the early 1920’s, Po-po’s early life was full of struggles. Perhaps Po-po enjoyed learning so much because she never had the opportunity to learn. Even at age 91, she still talked of her desire to learn more English. I often said to her, “Po-po, why bother? You don’t need to learn English. You won’t get a chance to use it.” I had always assumed she took the lessons as a way to socialize and form bonds with seniors. Upon reflection, I saw the genuine joy she always expressed for learning, in the way she spoke of her paintings and writings. It was not until this reflection exercise that I saw what a wonderful inspiration my Po-po is.
In keeping with Po-po’s passion for learning, I embraced the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop on Smart Board technology and subsequently shared my newly acquired knowledge with my colleagues.
The older I become, the more I appreciate the opportunity to learn, the process of learning, and the joy of learning. As an elementary school teacher, I know I will have many more opportunities to learn a wide variety of subjects. In this profession, not only will I be continually learning from my colleagues, but I will also be encouraged to keep updated with current pedagogy. Po-po’s legacy is part of me and I know that I will engage in lifelong learning with my peers, my students, and their families.