For this final reflection paper I am asked to consider how I have changed as a result of my learning experience in the Adult Education Program. My answer to this question is to state that the changes are numerous and changes have occurred in ways that I did not expect. Through this education I have developed my critical thinking skills. As a result I am considerably more competent at deciphering information and seeking out appropriate sources of information before making any decisions on whether or not I will place it in my personal knowledge library. And, I certainly take greater care in ensuring that I have obtained sound and well researched information before I share this knowledge with others in a learning environment.
As a result of my education, I have developed a real appreciation of diversity, the individual learning process, and what these qualities can bring to the learning environment. Although I have always known that individuals learn differently, the understanding of the individual’s experiences as a real influence on learning was profound for me to realize. One of the most reflective learning events for me was the concept of micro aggression. I was clearly able to see, much to my surprise, and disappointment, just how often I, myself, used micro aggressive statements that I often considered harmless. The reality of this awareness has significantly changed the words I choose in my interpersonal relations both personally and professionally. It has also increased my ability to recognize how my body language and tone can affect how my words may be perceived by others.
Currently I am working with Job Corps teaching very diverse and socio-economically disadvantaged youths ages 16-24. It is very fitting that I began this job while nearing the end of my Master’s studies and it is even more fitting that I have developed my skills to effectively guide these students while appreciating their individual stories; and what stories they have. The most significant skill from my education that I bring to these students is my awareness of power, privilege and oppression. Although the student population is diverse and most students enrolled have had either serious behavioral issues or a criminal background, they have lived underprivileged lives. Because of this they have witnesses, and rebelled against, power that they attribute to their life circumstance which often creates a sense of hostility among the youth. Most interestingly though is the very real displays of power among the student population; men and women, Blacks and Hispanics and Whites, young people from the local community and those from outside communities who have come to our campus.
The real need for power and hierarchy in this student population is evident all...