As a fresh Macy scholar from the class of 2015, I can't help but admit that I am a little bit intimidated by where I'm sitting. "Faculty Table", the sign says. That's supposed to refer to someone with pretty intensive and extensive experiences, right?
As a non-native speaker, I can't help but wonder that the word faculty may be used in English differently from the way it is used back home in Thailand. Over there the title doesn't come easy, one needs to clearly prove that they are way ahead of the pack and that they have a wealth of knowledge to give to other people to earn that title, which I don't think I have had, at least not yet. The reason I am being called a faculty is simply because I have already taken this course before, is that a good reason for me to have that title?
But then I think back to my experience from last year, and I wonder who were actually doing the teaching, and who were doing the learning. It turns out that everyone was doing both at the same time, and the processes were mostly non-hierarchical. There were no strict teachers who only taught, and there were no strict learners who only learn. We kind of did both at the same time.
The key as to how this seemingly paradoxical harmony could happen was, in my view, the magic mixture of diversities and commonalities in the group. We all came to the course because of similar goals, but we all carried with ourselves some unique experiences, perspectives and knowledge and everyone else could learn from. For example, I had the chance to learn about the aspects of American healthcare system that could be useful for my country, and I had a chance to share how my country managed to keep higher education dirt cheap and provided health coverage to every citizen despite the diminutive GDP.
Diversity in perspective and worldview can be very threatening to those who wish to close up and remain in their comfort zones. But diversity is invaluable to people who are willing to open up and learn whatever new ways that could help them reach their goals - and that is key to why we are both teachers and learners at the same time: we are always both sharing and receiving.
So the sign on the table is not going anywhere, and I will always have the title of faculty throughout the Macy experience, but I am looking to share whenever I can, and to also learn at every possible opportunity. Looking forward to hearing some insights from you all soon.
Atipong Pathanasethpong, MD, MS
Atipong Pathanasethpong, MD MMSc (MedEd) (Educators ’15, Leaders ‘15) is a graduate of the MMSc in Medical Education Program at Harvard Medical School. Atipong works as an anesthesiologist and medical educator at Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Thailand. He is currently active in instructional design and in disseminating cognitive science concepts to his trainees and colleagues. You can reach Atipong via Twitter at @AtipongPath.