We caught up with TEDxMaui 2013 speaker Jenelle Peterson and learned a few nuggets about her to share with our audience. Enjoy our Q&A with this extremely talented Maui educator, and stay tuned for more Speaker Spotlights from our amazing TEDxMaui 2013 presenters over the next few weeks.
What drives you to do the work you do?
For any learning to take root, there must be critical engagement by the learner. It’s not enough for an educator to say she’s “taught” something, and then move on without witnessing active engagement by the students. That’s like a farmer saying he’s “planted” something without ever yielding a successful crop. Until ALL of our children are learning and being successful, we have little claim to success. Our students will dictate when our work is done.
How are you or your topic connected to Maui or Hawai‘i?
Anytime an educational system is introduced by a culture or system not of the people or culture it is affecting, there is a high probability there will be a disconnect between those two systems of learning. We see this here in Hawai‘i—a way of learning and being prior to the arrival of the missionaries, and then a disruption of that learning as native Hawaiians were forced to adapt to the methodology of missionary schools. Remnants of that traditional model are still perpetuated in the school systems today.
As a result, many of our students struggle academically as they try to adapt to a way of learning not inherent to their own cultural ways of knowing. However, when we invite students to enter into discourse with one another, to “talk story” about a particular subject, we are supporting them to make meaning in their own way.
What advice would you give to your younger self—or what advice would your younger self, give to the older you?
Your life’s calling is your life’s calling. You can try to avoid it or wish for someone else’s life, but in the end, it’s what you were meant to do. How do you know? Because you can’t stop thinking about it, and it’s the only thing that seems to matter at the end of the day. Did you make a difference in the life of another?
What do the TED Talks mean to you? Do you have a favorite talk that speaks to you?
What excites me most about the TED forum is that it provides an opportunity for continual learning. We are able to connect with others who are passionate about their life’s work, which, in itself, is a contagious quality. No matter what the topic, a source of inspiration can be found in everyone’s story, including threads of perseverance, compassion, awakening, and gratitude.
The ideas presented here do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of TEDxMaui.