Grandmothers and education


Growing up, I had the great fortune of spending time with my maternal great-grandmother. Her name was, Styliani, or Stella for short, though no grandchild or great-grandchild would ever consider call her anything other than γιαγιά (giagia), the Greek equivalent of granny. One vivid memory I have of γιαγιά involves her expressing her hope to see me become a schoolteacher. I was nine years old when she passed, but I return to this memory often. I imagine she wanted me to become a teacher because teachers in her village were the knowledgeable and educated ones, the ones who were informed about the world and had a moral standing in the community. The ones who others looked up to.

Yet recently I’ve started wondering whether she was hoping for something radically different. She always had wise words to offer. Those words would oftentimes seem cryptic to a young one like me, but I now wonder if there was a nugget of wisdom in her desires for my future.

Perhaps she knew that working with students would be a privilege.

Every day I get to work with students - many of you probably reading this right now - not just to help them improve teaching and learning with technology, but also to explore with them what the future of education looks like and what it should look like. I get to critique problematic practices and investigate how we – schools, universities, governments, and the people in these organizations - can do better. I also get to learn from students. Our students work in schools and universities, they are entrepreneurs and government workers, they are in the military and in health care, and so many other industries. It’s an honor to come to work every day and be able to work with students, and learn from their experiences. It’s an honor to see them expand their technological toolkit, investigate teaching and learning from different perspectives, create solutions to education/training problems they face at work, and find meaning in new ideas and new concepts.

Perhaps γιαγιά knew that this job would be fulfilling.

About the author

Dr. George Veletsianos is a Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University. Veletsianos studies emerging technologies and pedagogies and his research aims to understand learners’, educators’ and scholars’ practices and experiences in emerging online settings (e.g., social networks and open learning environments). He has published two books, more than 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters, and has given more than 60 talks in conferences and events worldwide. Read more from his blogs and publications.