Staff Feature | Gerardo Picon: “The Value of Listening”

Gerardo Picon is Ashton’s Director of Curriculum and has been working here since 2007. We sat down with Gerardo to talk about his recent attendance of a three day workshop for educators in Mexico City.

As an educator with nearly four decades of experience, Gerardo Picon knows the value of listening. “Listening to your students is important yes, but people often forget the importance of listening to educators. People with experience have stories to tell and these stories are important for improving the quality of the student experience.” Recently, Picon attended an intensive three day workshop for educators at the Calidad y Evaluacion Educativa (Anglo-Mexican University) in Mexico City.

The workshop, created by Picon himself, focused on the design and implementation of standardized accreditation procedures for adult educators. “You have to look at education in terms of theory and practice. The practice occurs in the classroom but the theory, the methods we use as instructors evolves through dialogue. And good dialogue involves listening.”

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Picon and twenty co-educators from throughout Mexico began the workshop with a roundtable discussion. Picon describes his role initially as that of a silent participant.

“I knew that we had to go deep. The institution, all institutions, need to do an internal evaluation first. What are their needs? What can educators do to improve the educational experience of students? What are we not seeing? To know this I had to listen. Then, once the evaluation was complete we could begin to craft the conceptual framework and get it ready for implementation. I came in initially as an outsider and this gave me a really balanced perspective on the school I think.”

The workshop was the first of its kind in Mexico and Picon, a seasoned veteran of Latin American education, brought to the table a wealth of experience. An instructor and eventual Dean of Graduate Studies at the Universidad Francisco de Miranda in Venezuela who has worked at Ashton since 2007, Picon is a passionate believer in the power of cross-cultural education. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re working in Canada or Venezuela or Mexico, theory is universal. People are universal,” he says. “I went to Mexico to help educators design a better structure for accreditation and student evaluation but the theories we implemented could be used anywhere.”

By the conclusion of his three days in Mexico, Picon and the workshop attendees knew that they had created something special: a workable, highly flexible standardized framework to be used for evaluating accreditation procedures at the university. And Picon is confident that similar models could be implemented elsewhere as well.

“By the end of the three days the attendees were talking about implementing the model at other institutions in Mexico. When that sort of thing happens I know I’ve done my job well.”

This steadfast belief in the universality of human experience is what makes Picon and his experience a valuable asset at Ashton. With so many of Ashton’s students coming in from abroad, Picon knows that his ability to listen and focus on individual needs is what defines his role at Ashton. “We have students here from all over, and they each bring something special with them. I like to think of my job at Ashton just as I did at the workshop in Mexico, as a listener. We should all listen more, because people always have interesting things to say.”

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