• Karen

Learning in Darkness

Over the weekend I posted the grades for my latest course in Humanities 101. It was a typical end-of-class adventure, with some students struggling to upload the right files, a couple suddenly asking for extra credit work, and most reaping their well-earning grades. Yet, teaching adult learners is changing. No, it’s not just because technology seems to morph overnight, and institutions constantly twist and flex to meet changing demands on all sides. It’s the uptick in mental health issues. More and more of my students report they are depressed, suffering from PTSD, or battling anxiety. I mention this in a recent chat I had with a reporter from Rasmussen College

Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Going back to college as an adult can be tough, especially if you are like the majority of my students who are trying to earn credentials while holding down a job and juggling family responsibilities. Educational institutions exist in the world, with all its rampant rudeness, social upheaval, and generally unkind undercurrent. So what can I do?

I try to make my classrooms a space where students can ask for help. This means encouraging collaboration beyond just study ideas. In my courses we exchange tips on everything from time management to childcare. I openly acknowledge that I don’t know everything, and post lots of resource materials and information on support organizations.

I try to be brave. When students reveal problems to me (or when loved ones reveal them to you) they are trusting you, and asking you to be brave enough to let them talk about it. Do not ignore these overtures. Suicide Prevention Guide

Life and learning are hard enough without the dark cloak of depression. Shine your light for someone who needs it.


Van Gogh - At Eternity's Gate

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(c) 2019 Karen Southall Watts