Hi, I'm Ruth
Come and discover where this all began...
Time is a precious commodity and making time the most productive possible is what first started me on the path to where I am now.
I was living in Paris and teaching English to business people at top international companies. I immediately saw that every person who came to me had already studied English in school for 6-10 years, had followed English training in work for 2-10 years, yet not one person was able to have more than a basic conversation with me in English.
In my mind, in my heart, it was wrong. Wrong that one could "learn" for such a long period with such little results.
This is why, from the very beginning, learning for me has always been so much more than transmitting knowledge or covering a curriculum.
I never saw the point of standing in front of a class of students for an hour only for them to walk away and forget 99% of what I had "taught" them. I didn't want to waste their time. I didn't want to waste mine.
I set out to discover and develop more effective ways of learning: to optimize memory, stimulate automatic application and seamlessly integrate learning into the lives of the busiest of people.
I was just 19 at the time.
When I was 21, I went to China for the first time.
I immediately made plans to move there, find work and learn Chinese. The project to go back to China failed and I was pretty devastated, but I quickly decided to turn that failure to my advantage.
Instead of learning Chinese in China, I decided to learn Chinese in France (French is my second language) and test the possibilities of mastering a language when you also need to balance life, work and other activities.
I wanted to recreate a learning environment identical to what I would get if I had been able to learn in China, and demonstrate that even with limited amounts of vocabulary and grammar, one could learn to communicate fluently and fully engage in day-to-day conversation.
Online learning was not an option, Internet still being relatively young. It was me, my big dreams and my big Chinese dictionary!
Everybody told me I was crazy, that Chinese was too difficult and it would take me at least ten years to learn. I didn't have ten years to waste. So I challenged myself to do it in just one year.
And that's exactly what I did.
I knew if I could succeed in learning Chinese, employing the same techniques, anyone could succeed in learning English.
IF I COULD SUCCEED IN LEARNING CHINESE,
ANYONE COULD SUCCEED
Fast forward several years and I had continued to innovate. On my own initiative I was researching the science of learning and how the brain actually learns, observing student behaviour and learning to tap into it to gain better results when it came to engagement and motivation. And then I was developing learning methods and strategies and techniques that actually worked.
I was constantly getting great results including increased learner engagement, growing motivation levels, high participation rates with few cancellations and drop out rates completely disappearing!
Students were actually learning both in and out of class and they just didn't want to stop!
It was at this time, on receiving some outside advice, that I decided to take what I'd been working on and go to my employer and ask for a promotion and recognition of what I had been achieving.
Something I should have done years before.
The meeting, or should I rather say 'meetings' which ensued were among some of the most eye-opening of my whole career.
Instead of them at the very minimum expressing interest in my research and discoveries, they rather spent the whole time putting me down, telling me that they didn't pay me to 'think outside the box'.
I realised there was no future for me in the company and started planning my exit strategy.
And that wasn't the end of the story.
As I started to advertise for work, I received many offers for work. Yet every single offer followed the exact same format:
"Hello, I'm calling from XYZ school. I understand you're a teacher."
"Yes, that would be correct"
"So are you a native English speaker?"
"Yes, that would be correct."
"Great, so what would be your availabilities and when can you start..."
Let's just say I didn't accept a single one of those offers.
WHY DO SO FEW SCHOOLS CARE ABOUT HOW WE LEARN?
I had seen for a certain, from these companies and the ones I had worked for, that there was zero interest in teaching quality or real results.
Because there was always a steady stream of business regardless of whether the results were amazing or next to negligeable.
And that doesn't mean they never got complaints. Numerous times I would get called in desperation at the last minute to take a client who had already been through and rejected at least five other teachers.
Let's just say those clients never rejected a teacher again.
They were some of my best clients and we worked very happily together for years.
And so it was I came to realise in the world of teaching and learning, at the level of teaching itself, outside of the context of research, how little attention was given to the way we actually learn, let alone the science of learning and psychology of adult learning behaviour.
How most frequently, through no fault of our own, we teach in the way we were taught as students.
It's called normality.
Normality where we cannot even comprehend or visualise how things can be better, even when we inherently know what we have is not the greatest.
I had the knowledge.
I had the experience.
I even had the results.
The question now was, how do I turn that into a business. How do I put learning on everyone's tongue in a way that gets them excited and makes them want to talk about it, in a way that makes them want to keep learning more...
While pondering this question I went back to university to validate my research and findings.
I completed first a Masters degree in the science and psychology of adult learning, then a second Masters degree in International Education.
Then I started a doctorate in linguistics and adult basic education, researching representations, stereotypes through learners eyes. I wanted to see how we could better reengage with people on their own terms so they would want to return to education.
My dream is to make education more accessible.
My dream is that there has to be a better way to learn.
Regardless of how busy you are or how little or how much education you have:
- a way that more people can access
- a way that just makes you want to keep learning more and more and more.
I believe through better education we can access better information and make better more-informed choices.
Because through education, information, and choice, comes the keys to freedom:
Freedom of heart.
Freedom of mind.
Freedom of choice.
That is my dream.
This is why I have created this platform to develop and share ways to optimize learning.
Not just how the brain learns, but also how the mind body heart and soul learns, the psychology of adult learning behaviour and how we as adults can learn more effectively.
Because by optimizing learning, we optimize ourselves, opening the door to better education, better knowledge intake and better capacity for choice.
If you share that dream too and see better education as a key to our future, join the movement now!