Nearly a thousand of us were sitting under an orientation tent when the Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education warned us about the imposter syndrome. It’s a surprisingly common feeling that starts to creep in when people compare themselves to their talented, successful, and hard-working peers. Like Eleanor Shellstrop in The Good Place, they get the feeling that there must’ve been some mistake and they don’t really belong here.
There are clichés about how learning should never stop, but to be brutally honest, many professional development (PD) courses seem like a chore. In fact, they are often dreaded. I think I may have felt that way a long time ago, but because my feelings have changed so drastically, I have a hard time remembering the dread!
Looking back on it, my career tells a much more cohesive story than it felt like at the time. We usually think about a career as a series of sequential decisions, each building logically and systematically towards an end goal. However, that narrative is more often created in retrospect than prospectively. My, like many, careers felt haphazard and disjointed at each step. As BRAIN SIG members will know, we are plastic individuals with gradually (and sometimes rapidly!) shifting identities, interests, desires, and goals.
I’ve been attending the monthly workshops at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) now for about five years. Originally, I went as a way to rehearse what I was learning in my TESOL MA, but now I go just because I get so much from it that… well, why wouldn’t I?
It’s not easy to change career paths, but it is something that teachers often consider after working in one field for many years. This can mean a return to study, but as Adult Education experts have noted, older learners usually face some specific barriers in returning to school that younger learners do not, and sometimes these barriers prevent them from trying. And if you are a mother, like I am, even going to a conference can be difficult. This is my story of the challenges I faced in returning to study, and of the people who helped me to overcome them.
Editors: We asked our authors and advocates how they learn more about the brain. You’ll be surprised at the wide range of ways they offer.