What Inspires You?

For this issue of the EDC Resource Review, you were invited to share where you turn to for inspiration in your work -- a favourite quotation, article, book, poem, place, or person that draws you back to your principles, or calls you toward new challenges. Here are the inspiring contributions.

My inspiration is ‘Tuesday’s Terrific teaching Tips (4T)’, where NorQuest faculty send in their teaching tips, they are sorted and one is sent out every Tuesday by email to faculty.

At present we have sent done 80 consecutive Tuesdays (weeks).  Teaching Tips have included quotations, assessment ideas, technology, hands-on, etc.

So beyond getting Terrific Tips, it is a way to celebrate the expertise within our faculty and that is inspiring!

Roger Moore


At POD 2014, I was introduced to the Text and Academic Authors Association. They have a fabulous weekly post titled: “the most useful text and academic writing posts of the week” (see, for example: http://blog.taaonline.net/2015/05/the-most-useful-textbook-academic-writing-posts-of-the-week-may-8-2015/ ). Libby Becker does a great job at putting these together and I always find writing inspiration in the links she sends.

Text and Academic Authors Association Website.  http://blog.taaonline.net/

Isabeau Iqbal

I am inspired by the W.B. Yeats quote, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." What this quote means to me and how I use it in my practice is threefold and intertwined:

- I first saw it on the door of the founding director (Gail Riddell) of the campus-wide teaching support centre at UBC where I had the pleasure of working for 17 years, first with Gail, then with Gary Poole (speaking of inspiring!). The quote really resonated with how I strive to help people learn; I have the quote on the cover of my teaching portfolio.

- I continue to promote that it is the 'uncovering', rather than the 'covering' of material and process in teaching to make sure it is about the learning; I apply this in my current work with two first-year courses that includes supporting faculty and teaching assistants (see Cassidy, 2012. Think about the words. STLHE Newsletter, Spring 2012. Number 59, page 3, based on a great conversation and brainstorming I had with Maryellen Weimer.)

- In designing and facilitating educational development seminars as a consultant, whether face to face or online, it is the fanning of curiosity and linking to interests that I feel sets the best tone, no matter the topic.

By the way, the following site has lots more quotes, which I think you can search by topic. Check it out:  http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williambut101244.html

Alice Cassidy

Since I was in elementary school where I had to memorize and recite it in front of my class, my inspiration has been the poem, Barter, by Sara Teasdale.  You can read it at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175276.  It starts out:

Life has loveliness to sell,
      All beautiful and splendid things … 

And the last stanza has guided my life:

Spend all you have for loveliness,
      Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
      Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

In other words, give your absolute all for whatever you value, whatever you pursue, whatever you aspire to.  Work hard, suffer, sacrifice, do whatever it takes for the profound and lasting joy of accomplishment!

Linda Nilson
Time and again, I come back to the following article:

Amundsen, C., & Wilson, M. (2012). Are we asking the right questions? A conceptual review of the educational development literature in higher education. Review of Educational Research, 82(1), 90-126.

I find that the six-cluster framework as described by Amundsen and Wilson always helps guide my thinking and approach to educational development. The framework helps me critically listen to the needs of faculty, chairs and deans, and assess the most appropriate response when they solicit our services and support.

Tim Loblaw

One of the my 'inspiring reads' on teaching comes from Stephen Rowland (from the UK), “A Lover’s Guide to University Teaching”, published in Educational Action Research in 1997.  It inspired a great symposium at the 2008 ICED Conference by a number of us from the educational development community around the world.  It starts out: "I want to inspire in my students a love of their subject. … It is difficult to think of a more fundamental educational aim for anyone who teaches in a university. It seems to express what is at the heart of the vocation of teaching. Yet the statement sounds oddly romantic and naive, or even empty, in the present context of concern for the quality of teaching.”  With these words, I was (and continue to be) drawn into a wonderful exploration of the how inspiring a love of discipline and a love of learning generally motivates so many of us to engage in the work that we do (whether as instructors within diverse disciplines or educational developers supporting faculty across the disciplines).  It remains one of my favourite reads.


Brad Wuetherick

Land, R. (2011). Agency, context and change in academic development. The International Journal for Academic Development, 6(1), 4-20. DOI: 10.1080/13601440110033715.

What I really like about this piece is the notion of the different orientations to academic (educational) development practice (see p. 6).  I’ve used it in retreats for teaching centres to help examine the differing ways in which we approach this kind of work. I find it helps remind people that different isn’t better or worse, just different: that there are philosophical variations to how we do ED.

Nicola Simmons


My inspiration:

• The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry with Katherine Woods (Translator)
• I read this book over and over, especially when I experience a “crossroads” in work or in life. The tone of the book inspires reflection on three things that I value: (1) remembering what is truly important, (2) the power of imagination and creativity, and (3) the vulnerability of the child within the adult.
• Widely available in hard cover and paperback (& additional translations).

Rosemary Polegato


I’ve always felt drawn to the following phrase: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need” (Frederick Buechner).  I first read a version of this phrase when reading Parker Palmer’s work and it has appeared to me, in different ways, many times over the years, both as a reminder and as an aspiration.  This phrase reminds me that, as I do the work that I love to do – reading, writing, thinking about and, in glorious and privileged moments, facilitating moments of insight and growth – I must ask myself, “How can I make this about something bigger, deeper than myself?  How can this be of value to others?”.  Certainly, I don’t always succeed, but the quotation posted on my wall is a gentle reminder to try. 

Julie Timmermans


  1. Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
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