I love to learn, but I didn’t always love my experiences in learning. I spent my life in formal and informal learning settings that did not meet my needs. I think and learn divergently, which makes my experiences learning in traditional models radically different. I grew up believing there was something wrong with me, despite all efforts, I consistently failed standardized tests. I was caught in a system that labeled me a failure for not fitting within it; even if it was the system itself that was failing me. There was no community of support for people like me.
Dr. Richard Rohr, a psychiatrist, said that if you don’t transform your pain, you will transmit it. Had I accepted my experiences in learning were an accurate assessment of my ability to learn, my trajectory in life would have been predetermined. It has taken me years to understand that who I am, and how I learn is not the problem. My early life in learning felt disconnected, like I was traveling by plane, with layovers and connecting flights, to a destination I was unable to reach. It wasn’t until I understood the importance of the journey itself rather than focusing on a specific destination that I was able to begin to transform my trauma. I had to learn to see things from a different perspective, and I understand what it feels to be trapped in failing systems.
This manifests as the driving force of my mission to serve and provide a continuity of care that is just as important in learning as it is in health care. Continuity of care in learning and development that is still missing throughout my entire life, and every day I will work to empower others to imagine new ways, new stories, to self-author, and transform their own experiences and stories to change their own journeys.
A Call for Reorientation
How we believe and see our lives – matters. My learning journey has spanned dozens of countries, educational systems, and approaches to learning, and all throughout I have been fortunate to meet phenomenal people authentically passionate about developing, but who remain constrained in their growth by standardized systems in which they do not fit.
Systems are driven by counting things that don’t always matter. Performance metrics often emphasize organizational efficiency over individual optimization, and do not measure the system’s ability to effectively support individuals transitioning from where they are to where they want and need to be.
We tend to shift the blame to schools and organizations for their inability to respond in a way for which they were never designed. Rather than accepting these inadequacies, I believe the most powerful change occurs when unique individuals co-develop outside conventional systems, in shared spaces designed to meet the challenges and opportunities of our era.
My most significant hardship was the critical juncture in my personal and professional transformation where I knew I could not be my authentic self and realize my full potential in a system not designed specifically for me. I had to build those systems and processes for myself through decades of exploration and refinement, and my passion is to use the lessons of that journey to help transform others’ learning experiences in a way that celebrates, rather than marginalizes, what makes them unique.
Neurodiversity is a person’s greatest gift when it is co-developed in adaptable and communal learning spaces that nurture the creation of our own fully customized mental operating systems.
Yours in Learning,