‘Experience is not what happens to you.
It’s what you do with what happens to you’.
(Aldous Huxley 1932, Texts and Pretexts)
What role does our personal history play in our experience of learning?
I believe that our personal history plays a major role in our experience of learning. In both circumstances, as student and as a new teacher, I was exposed to different teaching and learning approached which, to certain degree, influence how I learn and how I teach. It is the past personal history that makes us create narrative about education. I believe that it is what we think and believe in (which can be influenced by personal experiences) and how we reflect on it, links us to the way we teach.
I think that learning environment of creative subjects in specific and different personal experiences of learning from previous various and possibly different environments can often be manifested by the ways that students learn. The cultural experiences will also have impact on how students understand learning. The lack of certain methods that might have been used in their prior experiences can have an impact of understanding of the subject and activities involved in creative environment.
What do we do with what we learn?
I believe it depends on the environment we are learning in. I would like to believe that we attempt to reflect on it and use it in our personal journey. However, it is often the case that some of what we learn we never question and as students we take what we learnt for granted. The moment we start questioning and reflecting on what and how we learn becomes our own experience. Looking at the learning experience from this perspective makes me want to agree with Huxley that ‘Experience is not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you’.
What are the risks in encountering new ways of thinking, being and making?
There is always a risk involved in facing something new. From a learner perspective it can be frightening, overwhelming and surprising. The new way of thinking might even surprise ourselves. It can lead to isolation in the way we think. We might feel embarrassed to share it.
How does learning change the way we experience ourselves?
I think it might bring an element of surprise. We might surprise ourselves that learning influences the way we perceive ourselves. It can make us feel more confident or exactly opposite, can make us realise about all the other areas that we lack expertise in and this can make us feel incompetent. Personally, learning gives me confidence that I am in charge of what I believe in and what I do with what I learn.
Do you agree with Huxley’s view on experience?
To certain degree. It seems that his view may be relevant to situations when we reflect on what we learn and understand what it does to us and how we can use it to create our own journey.