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The Joy of Learning

November 16, 2019
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

For 22 straight years, from 1997 until 2019, Heide and I sent at least one daughter to the Foote School, an elementary school in New Haven. From the time Gabrielle started kindergarten until Francesca finished eighth grade last Spring, we were dropping off a child every morning on Loomis Place.*

We were committed Foote parents for good reason. The school’s motto cultivated joy for learning: “Gladly will I learn and gladly teach.” The teachers were talented, creative professionals. They nourished a lasting joy that our girls will carry forever.

We need to nourish the same joy in adults. Though adult learners may have different needs (being more self-directed and preferring practical content), they need joy just as much.

Joy fosters precious bonds between teachers and learners. In turn, these bonds allow teachers to challenge learners to take risks and to feel safe admitting what they don’t know. The same bonds allow teachers to give learners honest feedback, and they allow learners to give teachers crucial feedback in return.

I just finished two particularly joyful days in the MICU with a wonderful team. Together, we explored complex physiology and challenged ourselves to interpret CTs and echocardiograms before reading the official reports. We untangled knotty ethical dilemmas and we worked our way through difficult medical problems. Many patients improved and, for those who could not, we did our best. Without fail, we entered every room together, examining, counseling, and comforting patients and families. These are the experiences we remember. This is the joy. This is how we learn.

Joyful moments like these remind me why I do what I do- as if I really needed reminding. It’s the joy of learning that fuels my love for teaching and learning in this sacred profession.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone,


*In honor of my middle child, Isabella, I am mentioning her here, since it’s too easy to forget your middle child.


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on November 17, 2019