By Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
October 1st, 2019
From a numerical point of view, 20 years could be defined as 7,300 days—or as an equivalent to 175,200 hours. From an emotional point of view, we can define it as a symphony of stories, experiences and learnings of all kinds. But, if we honor the brilliant German -Jewish physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), relativity must be considered. This is because 20 years is an almost infinitesimal numerical value—compared to the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang, or with the appearance of the human being on Earth (or its ancestors, properly speaking) 6 million years ago.
By virtue of what I have mentioned, in these brief lines I would like to share something very special for me. In September 1999 (exactly 20 years ago), I taught my first master's degree class in the higher education system in my country, Honduras. Although I started teaching very early ( English as a second language at my age of 18), my teaching adventure really took another course by giving graduate classes.
After scientific proof, with experimental support exercises, I can assure that I am much better andragogue (teacher of adults) than pedagogue (teacher of infants and adolescents). From the point of view of contemporary “management”, and using technical marketing vocabulary , I found my “niche market.” Being perfectly honest, I decided to give my first master's class at my 31 years because I knew it would be a not at all easy challenge. Fun, but not at all easy; exciting, but not at all easy.
The 20-years-of-teaching-in-masters journey could not be more special. The journey has led me to almost unearthly experiences that range from giving a class at 5am and another one on a full Saturday from 1pm to 10pm; to teaching a parent in a promotion and teaching his son in another a few years later. From examining schoolmates of mine to teaching (not about medicine, of course) medical doctors. From having students in the classroom that are 20 years older than me, to having (precisely this year) a student who is the age of my oldest son.
Now, if I had to sum up what I have learned by teaching in little more than 100 courses for 200 students in 3 universities and in 7 cities of my country in the past 20 years, it would be this:
First, each student is a potential champion, a genius to be discovered, a star to shine, a maximum potential to be achieved. They don't know it, they don't believe it or they are distracted. It is the teacher's job to let them know.
Second, Kaizen became one of my favorite words. By giving myself the opportunity to teach the Quality Management class, I discovered the Japanese concept of KAIZEN, defined as continuous improvement or good change. That concept changed my view of seeing life. We must all apply kaizen in our personal and professional life. Each of my students will always remember it, I can guarantee it.
Third, leading is not the same as managing. They are different universes, sometimes complementary and sometimes not. When I received classes, I learned management, when I taught, I learned leadership. And the word has become a passion for me.
Fourth, imagination manifests itself in creativity and innovation. We , as teachers, are TREMENDOUSLY responsible for our students not to become bored and monotonous when speaking, thinking, feeling and especially when putting into practice what they have learned in daily life.
Summing it up, if I dare to extrapolate these 20 years of teaching to my personal life I could conclude (with a bit of artistic-poetic-literary flavor) that life is fragile: however, pure love can be a good reinforcing rod. Life is complicated: however, hope can be a way to face it. Life is short: but happiness can make it a bit longer.
Thanks to God for these 20 years. Today, I begin my journey of the next 20.