Below is a blog post I wrote in the winter of 2018 after attending the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, yet it is still very applicable. In the current state of the world and with our abnormal work and lifestyle circumstances there is still something to be learned and our teachers are still everywhere.
This year was my first experience at the Melbourne Writer’s festival and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from current writers in the industry, whether they were in the fiction or non-fiction field as a profession or a passion. While I received invaluable insights into the industry, tips and tricks I can use in my own writing and new perspectives on topics of writing and life alike, the biggest lesson I took away from the experience was teachers don’t only work in classrooms.
I attended a select few conversations that formed a subsection of the festival with the intent of gaining exposure. Engaging with these events with this mind-frame allowed me to pull phrases, tips and ideas just from the conversations of the diverse range of published authors, editors and conversation-directors without any of them explicitly trying to teach.
When I became aware of how much information I was receiving from these events and the valuable insights I was gaining, I realised that while it was a ‘festival’ the title didn’t truly capture the experience.
In the workshop – a vastly different environment from a classroom where noise comes from air guns and running engines instead of children – there isn’t one designated ‘teacher’ and every job is a test of your knowledge and experience. The apprentices learn from the technicians and the service manual, and once the apprentices become technicians there is an unlimited expanse of knowledge and understanding still to be absorbed. I feel it is safe to say no one in the workshop has ever completed a teaching degree, yet a significant portion of their job is teaching and training.
In my experience I have received more from the lessons I’ve received outside of a classroom than the ones I received in them. It’s not just the content that I’m learning, but values of diversity and growth, self-improvement and social interaction, problem solving and work ethic. The extent to which I could have learn those skills in a classroom were limited in comparison to the exposure I receive in a work place or the exposure I receive when exploring new events or situations. My parents, sibling, work-mates, supervisors, friends, strangers at festivals and my own mistakes – they are teachers too. Books, films or T.V. shows (and I’m not just talking about documentaries or non-fiction text) can teach us and introduce new ideas or ways of thinking, and children, with their unfiltered view of the world, are also great teachers of perspective.
Now that I’ve had my vision broadened, I feel more receptive to the lessons constantly being thrown at me. Every day there is another mistake to be made or lesson to learn, and I’m surrounded by teachers.