1-Minute Intro to Sam Barrow
Education and Certifications
Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Education and Human Resource Studies – Adult Education and Training Specialization, Colorado State University
Through project-based assignments that ensure real-world knowledge and immediate application on the job, you will learn to think more strategically about adult learning theory,instructional design, methods of instruction, learning technologies, learning transfer, program assessment
See full Program Description, Courtesy of the Colorado State University website
Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Graphic Arts Production and Management, New York City College of Technology (CUNY)
The curriculum in the baccalaureate program provides students with managerial expertise and builds upon the skills learned in the AAS program. It offers production management with practical applications and enables the student to have the flexibility of making career changes among the major areas of the graphic arts. Emphasis is placed on the use of state-of-the-art equipment and technology with major use of computers and related systems. Students acquire proficiency in executive, sales, managerial, technical and supervisory activities.
See full Program Description, Courtesy of the New York City College of Technology (CUNY) course catalog
Why do I teach?
At the very foundation of my teaching philosophy is the idea that everyone can learn. Some people do better on their own while some prefer instructor led settings. Regardless of the environment, I believe that everyone is capable of intellectual growth and that fear, rather than our intellect, is a common obstacle. We’re scared to fail, scared to look silly, scared to be wrong, but if you’re learning from those experiences, you’re growing from them. In that aspect, I want to challenge my students to question everything, explore common and not-so-common beliefs and evaluate your thought process. I want you to learn to push past the surface information, past the habits of memorization, to employ active learning techniques in your daily lives.
I also place a strong emphasis on the value of pursuing topics that are of personal interest, something that is necessary for individual happiness. We often think of continuing education as a means to an end; a degree or certification is just a pathway to the perfect job. This doesn’t always have to be the case and there’s nothing wrong with learning just to learn. Taking a course in photography, community knitting classes or a seminar on horticulture are examples of continuing education relevant to the individual. An integral component to my classes is getting you to reevaluate your relationship with learning, remembering that it can be fun and it can be rewarding. Students will begin to build confidence in their ability to contribute meaningfully to self development, peer discussions, and on a larger scale, to community and social initiatives.
How do I accomplish these goals in the classroom?
- Collaborative Learning – Adult education theory puts a strong emphasis on encouraging students to bring their experiences into the classroom, and with good reason. By the time we move into continuing education, we are brimming with ideas and experiences that help us relate to each other and the world around us. Because of this, I believe that regardless of your background, every student has something to bring to the table. Whenever possible, I try to incorporate collaborative learning, or targeted group work, as a way to share information and perspectives.
- Critical Thinking – Part of effective learning is applying new knowledge to your current situations, making critical thinking a skill that is relevant in both business and personal environments. Analyzing and reflecting on information leads to deeper thinking, allowing you to explore your previous beliefs and determine whether they still hold true, are incorrect or can be expanded.
- Building Relationships Through Open Dialogue – Building relationships is one of the ways we share information and develop our knowledge. For this to work, respect in the classroom is crucial. Students are encouraged to share their opinions in a safe learning environment where they will have the opportunity to bring up questions or thoughts and have those opinions considered with equal weight by both the instructor and peers.
When you leave my classroom, it’s my hope that you have gained comprehension of the content, that you engaged in a meaningful exchange of ideas with your peers and that you start to recognize key elements regarding the way you perceive education as an adult. Additionally, I aim to learn something from you, no matter how grand or small or obscure, because a student can teach the teacher and it means just as much. Finally, I hope my classes inspires you to “pay it forward”- continue to share knowledge where you can and encourage those around you to do the same.
My Journey to Adult Education
In 2010, I met a woman who had never sent an email before and a man who had lived here all of his life but only learned English in the last 5 years. In 2011, I met a woman who had never used a computer before, but was eager to learn. In 2013, I met a man who did not know how to use the internet, but was fascinated by how quickly one could uncover answers with a few keystrokes. And by 2013, I knew I wanted to teach adults.
Before transitioning into a corporate career, I’d been working as a lead/manager in hospitality for 7 years, I had a Bachelor’s of Technology in Graphic Arts Production Management and I was sure, when all was said and done, I would end up somewhere in the middle of those two. That all changed when I accepted a Data Administrator position at one of NYC’s largest third party provider of Title I educational services. The position was new and relatively undefined; the only thing I knew for certain was that I was responsible for gathering and cleaning data and reporting this information to the NYC Department of Education. It was obvious from the outset that in order to do this, I needed to structure the way we collected data from the teacher level to that of the field supervisors. In initiating and leading this process, I began to realize the scope of the learning deficits adults potentially face.
When I began in 2010, I was introduced to something I never considered – an entire community of people who were dedicated to educating the next generation but ill prepared to do so. We dealt mostly with Yeshivas, or Jewish day schools, which tend to focus more heavily on religious studies than traditional education. Having come from this same cycle, many of our teachers did not have certain fundamental skills necessary to do their jobs. When you consider this on a whole – children who grow into adults who go on to propagate this cycle, the question becomes, what happens when they step outside that circle? What will they do when they need to communicate clearly to students, coworkers, parents and supervisors? If they never learned how to construct arguments or how to put together reports using common technology and modern research methodology, how can their ideas make a lasting impact?
Around the same time I began that job, my husband was laid off. We spent hours searching for resources to teach him new skills in hopes that it would make his resume more attractive to potential employers. We reached out to the Department of Labor but they wouldn’t teach you any new skills to help transition into another field. If you didn’t already know it, then those classes weren’t for you. We searched college websites and anything else we could think of but unless you could pay to enroll in courses or workshops, options were few and far between. Concurrently, I was watching the same struggle plague our teachers. The issue was apparent. It wasn’t just him – there are thousands of people in the same predicament. They were missing essential skills that were free, low cost or rolled into tuition when they were younger but now seemed insurmountable after reaching adulthood and spending years working a full time job.
This culmination of events sparked an idea that has since blossomed into a driving goal. Regardless of where I go or what job title I hold, I am dedicated to facilitating adult education through various mediums including webinars, social outreach and free or low cost classes with the intention to empower individuals to pursue their own personal development.