Nov 27, 2011

Professor Ricky

I've been re-born this weekend as Teacher Extraordinaire. Or at least extra-ordinary in terms of scope.
Friday morning - grade one at Sunrise Waldorf
Friday afternoon - lecture about fundraising and campaigning to a non-profit management course at Vancouver Island University
Saturday morning - workshop about Dynamic Governance to a group of Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland co-op/co-housing folk at OUR Ecovillage and livestreaming online
Monday morning - lecture about sustainability to the Global Stewardship students at Capilano University

Beyond having to check my identity to remember what I'm supposed to be knowledgeable about for each group, it's a great reminder of how much I love teaching. Sharing what I've picked up along the way, being challenged by learners with different perspectives and experiences (the governance workshop became a true exploratory dialogue about the difference between consensus and consent), and being forced to consolidate my ideas into a tangible, usable product.

Feedback has ranged from "You are AWESOME and FUNNY and NICE and FUN" (grade 2 parent) to "Your presentation absolutely blew me away and was one of the best presentations I have heard in a very long time. You are so passionate about what you do and it was made extremely clear to all of us." (VIU student). It always feels good to be competent at something, and to believe that the effort of going all the way to North Vancouver and back tomorrow will actually make a difference for someone.

But mostly it's about connection. Being in a room of people who care about the narrow and sometimes odd topic I'm presenting. Let's face it, Governance is not the sexiest topic to most people, but to those 20 people on Saturday morning it was fascinating and we all enjoyed exploring and debating it. My "Can We Trust Africans" talk tomorrow might just ruffle some feathers at a party, but to a group of aspiring international development professionals it's a frontal assault on their belief systems that just might change how they shape their careers. Just like a Star Trek convention (where, by the way, the 7th floor is reserved for kinky sexual escapades by trekkies and aliens in full costume and green skin), facilitating a discussion with a group of people just as into leadership or governance or development as me is a huge turn-on.

One of several paths I'm contemplating these days is to go back into a doctoral program, with a research interest centred on sustainability (financial and operational) of international development projects. It would open the way to some international field research with my family, and to more of this teaching stuff. It's a new idea, but a return to an old passion for sharing knowledge and prompting insight. Rutabega Rick just might become Professor Rick one of these days. And for the grade one students who just couldn't get their mouths around "Mr. Juliusson", Mr. Rick.

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