Intuitive Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning from the Inside Out

As an educator at the university level, I have always thought – and been taught by others – that if what I do is innovative, creative, in-tune with students’ interests and capacities, I will be successful at what I do.  I was also told that what I study would define me for at least the first ten years of my career and that if what I study is exciting, relevant for the times, and “cutting edge,” I will inspire others to follow the same path; to study the same crucial topics.

I clearly remember going to the job market to find my first university position and thinking and actually believing that I was what I do.  I, Brianne Orr,  bi-lingual American from a small town in Michigan, Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies and lover of all things related to Spanish and Spanish-American culture, was Revolution.  After all, that was my primary area of specialization and therefore that was who I was or at least the defining characteristic in who I would become as an educator, a peer, and a mentor for others in the years to come.

For the first few years of my career, I allowed what I do to define my perception of who I am as an educator.  I believed that students took my classes because they were interested in what I taught – Revolution, Identity, Translation, Language.  While this could be true, at least in part, about a year ago, my brother sent me a link to a Simon Sinek TED talk that has re-shaped how I view myself and my role as an educator at the university level.

It’s not about what you do, it’s about why you do it. […] People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 

Sinek repeats these tag lines throughout his talk to reveal his “inside-out” marketing strategy (it is not what we do-how we do it-why we do it, but rather why-how-what).  But universities and even educators on some level, also market themselves as a brand, a practice, an approach in today’s global context.

These are precisely the ideas that got me thinking about why I teach,  why I want to (and do!) continue evolving as an educator, and why students decide to come along with me on this teaching and learning journey at UBC and beyond.

In the pages, posts, links and other materials included in this blog, I hope not only to reflect why intuitive, inquiry-based teaching has proven effective for me, but what it is and how others may explore the benefits of such strategies for engagement through teaching and learning in their own practice.