Our past molds our present but reflection changes our future

This week has been a very busy week (coming off of parent interviews, Ignites, following along with Bit, starting a new course with OISE) but after some awesome Ignite presentations by Fair Chance Learning I couldn’t help but think how our past molds who we presently are.


During my Ignite I mentioned my Father and how he taught (or really didn’t teach) me. You see my father is not a teacher by any means and being an immigrant whose own father had to stay in England to work made him learn on his own. To him learning was individual. What I need to know I go out and get and this is how he taught us. Don’t understand how to rotate the breaks, just go do it. Don’t understand calculus read the book and do it. There was no step by step procedure, someone sitting beside me telling me what to do or helping me, it was just me.

I often wonder if this is the reason why I feel very passionate about letting students explore and create their own understanding. Now please let me preface I also think that learning needs to be in a safe, inclusive and monitored state but that was not always so. I remember when I first volunteered and questioned shouldn’t students just know “it” (it being the subject).

I see it with my parenting and to a degree my classroom management. I grew up in a very strict household. In fact, my Dad often quoted , “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” (please note that it may seem like I had an awful childhood and my Dad was a mean old ogre but in truth, he was the most loving father I could ever have). Now I didn’t take this philosophy to that degree with how I raise my children or students but I have for the longest time taken the stance that a strict firm presence is what all children need to follow the line (boy was I wrong).


Being an unsuccessful parent (in my eyes) has taught me that a lot comes to understanding my children’s needs, stresses and how they respond to that stress. Reflecting on this has changed me for the better, both as a parent, a person and a teacher.

Which brings me to the last point, reflection. It has been through some very hard soul searching and reflecting that many of my teaching changes have happened. I also mentioned in my Ignite that I was afraid that my students were becoming complacent. I was afraid that every year they were just coming because we told them too and I didn’t think that was the students’ fault. For so many years I would ask this:


Leaving the only common denominator, me. If I was the common denominator then it was me that needed to change and it was because I was willing to change that I am where I am today.

I know I may be rambling here but I have been thinking about all the various debates we have in school (coding, parenting, math) and try very hard now to see the various perspectives at play. What has shaped these discussions? Is it to flee how we have been taught? Is it that it never worked for me so I must find something different? Is it this is how I was raised so I keep on trucking?

All of these questions come into play in our everyday. Each experience we have plays an impactful role in how we handle stress, how we react to people and make-up who we are. However, our past does not define us. It molds us but reflection allows us to create the futures that we need.

I find it interesting to think on this:

  1. What past events or stories has molded who you are today?
  2. How do those events impact you as a person, teacher and all around being?
  3. Do you like the path? or What would you change?
  4. How has reflection changed who you are today?

Thanks for listening to some of my rambles. Love to hear your stories.


Author: MrSoClassroom

I am a grade school Teacher, promoting creativity and exploration in all of my students. My classroom is always in a state of Inquiry.

5 thoughts on “Our past molds our present but reflection changes our future”

  1. Jonathan, this is a post that I think I need to read a few times to really get all of it. That said, I think that your reflection point is key. And it’s hard … especially when we’re in this constant state of reflection. It almost seems as though our brains can’t shut off. But each year, I look back at my teaching in previous years, and I realize how much I’ve changed (and our classroom) has changed for the better because of this reflection. So I think that reflection really has made me better at what I do, and even more than that, it’s made me think beyond “good job, Aviva” to “what can I do better the next time?” It’s also led to far richer/deeper conversations with colleagues and friends, which is something that I noticed these past couple of days at BIT. Curious to hear what others have to say about this.



  2. I gave a talk once where I spoke about what made me the teacher I am (becoming). My grandmother taught me long ago that there is no such thing as a bad kid. My parents taught me to be the best at what ever I chose to do, whatever that might be. I was also influenced by Richard Pryor (I love stand up comedy) who showed me the power of honesty/vulnerability and how it can bring people together. Even if it is a little painful. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were the first musical group that I listened to that made me think that there were other people out in the world that had a different reality than mine….and they were not happy about it. Most recently, I have been influenced by many people who I follow on social media, like you. So thanks for that!
    Weird question….are you planning on coming to Kingston for the OAME conference?


    1. Hi Murray,

      Thanks for your comments and your stories. I just find it fascinating what and who shapes who we are.

      No I am not going to Kingston. It is a little too far for me and my young family. Would love too but cannot leave my wife with all three for that many days.


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