It Takes Guts: Part 1

Today’s blogger, Jennie Pearl, is a San Francisco Bay Area-based yoga teacher and a The Mazé Method Apprentice.

I teach A LOT of yoga to teens, well, until recently.   For the first time in a decade, I have taken a break from working with teenagers. I no longer get the update that my socks and sandals combo isn’t actually that cool. No one really tells me anymore which Taylor Swift song I MUST listen to. I miss their spiciness, rawness, and vitality.

What I have gained in return though, is perspective. Taking a step back from youth education has offered me a greater understanding of adult education, who non-traditional students are, and how they learn. In fact, as it turns out, teenage students are not all that different from adult students. They both show up to a new class with anxiety, nervousness, and fear of the unknown. Both are often triggered by the “H” word…Homework. Both want to feel loved and accepted. They want to feel supported as they grow their capacity, are challenged beyond belief, and deepen their sense of identity.

What does stand out though is that students in adult education choose to show up. They are not forced to be there as teens often are. Having chosen adult education myself, I know it is not always easy. It takes time, money, creativity, and often schedule-rearranging, among other things to make it happen. The reality is that even the word “school” has not always been a positive one for most folks. Parker Palmer expands on this in his book, “The Courage to Teach:”

“From grade school on, education is a fearful enterprise. As a student, I was in too many classrooms riddled with fear, the fear that leads many children, born with a love of learning, to hate the idea of school.”

Just because we are all adults now, does not mean that learning is easy. Often times students who show up to teacher training haven’t been to formal school in decades, or what feels like decades. Many have never really learned how they learn or what really works for them. Often times students are attached to their identity of being a “slacker,” “lazy,” or “book smart” from their college or even grade school experiences. Simply because we are adults does NOT mean we show up without fear and a whole history of positive or negative educational experiences.

What gives me hope is how the curriculum Noah is offering encourages students to learn how they learn, to communicate skillfully, and to take charge of their education. Noah empowers students to successfully meet their learning goals, regardless of their fears or what they see in themselves as shortcomings. Being the education geek that I am, I am enthralled by the rich learning environment that Noah is able to create, even in short bursts of time. What I have witnessed over the past six months of my apprenticeship is evidence that it is very possible to reignite and gain a love of learning. Stay tuned for Part Two where I will share my experience participating in and assisting Noah in Trainings and Workshops during the past six months.

Jennie Pearl’s love of yoga is infectious and contagious. Her students come to class expecting to learn and to grow. Her experience as a massage therapist, classroom teacher, and outdoor leader complement and inform her teaching style. She has been a pioneer in the yoga community for her work with teens in settings ranging from public schools to juvenile detention centers. Jennie is grateful for the further inspiration she receives from her primary teachers Noah Maze, Darren Rhodes, and Christina Sell. She currently lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.