Michael VanHook
Michael VanHook


Something to Ponder


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, or re-learn” (Alvin Toffler).


“Don't let schooling interfere with your education” (Mark Twain).

Invitation to Ponder

I hated school; I loved learning. As time went on, my hatred lessened—somewhat—and my yearning for learning increased.


This might sound strange coming from a teacher, but school was more often than not an awkward place. As a student, I never seemed to fit in. It was frequently boring, scary, intimidating, redundant, and irrelevant. My yearning for learning was repeatedly stifled. On the day I received my high school diploma and walked out of the hallowed halls, I never looked back.


I don’t think I’m alone. As a teacher, I’ve encountered lots of students that feel that school is not a place to grow and learn. For them, it’s a place to conform, survive and not thrive, and certainly not a place to learn but to regurgitate. The landscape is littered with those left behind. Educators also feel the frustration of trying to teach inside a structure that is broken and ineffective.


I believe learning is a lifelong process. It can take place at all stages of life. I’m convinced that if we cease to learn; we cease to grow, and we cease to contribute. I also know that not all learning takes place in the context of a classroom. Some of our most valuable lessons are learned from people, in places, our own personal explorations, and during times when we least expect them. I also recognize that not everyone learns in the same manner—the cookie-cutter approach leaves many learners outside and alienated.


Learning has been my lifelong passion. This inspiration came from my parents. Both were the first in their families to graduate high school and earn college degrees.


My other passion is teaching. Strangely enough, I always wanted to become a teacher, but I never pursued that dream until late in life. It’s challenging yet rewarding. I have witnessed lives being changed.


As an educator, I struggle with these questions:


Why is there this disconnect between school and learning?


What was your experience in school? Was there a disconnect between the school learning environment and your personal learning experience? If so, how?


How do you learn now? How can schools change to enhance student learning instead of inhibiting it?


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São Paulo, Brazil 

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© Michael VanHook