Living According to Your Values: Insight From an Inspiring Teacher and Father

A career in education can be so much more than an occupation. For some, it’s a chance to live a meaningful life and help shape the world for the next generation. Steven Sengstock is one such person. After a completely different career and a near-death experience, he decided he only wanted to do what mattered and for him, that was teaching. Now a High School teacher of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indonesian (and chess!), he recently decided to go back to University and study a Master’s of Reading and Literacy at Torrens.


I chose this course to improve my career prospects, but more importantly, to kick-start what I genuinely believe to be my new life’s purpose. I switched careers from defence ten years ago to become an educator. That was a big decision, driven by my passion for improving the future prospects for the world’s youth, one of whom is my adorable son.

 I want to offer people the tools to critically engage with the world around them and understand the positive impact they can make in society. Essentially, to support people in making good decisions and enable them to live their best lives”.


Why you should choose work that you care about

There’s never been so much evidence to support that old saying, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Not only is doing something that you care about better for your emotional health, it’s now been linked to living a longer and healthier life. Sadly, less than half of all Australians enjoy their work. It looks like Steven made a good choice by following his passion. So what is it exactly that he finds so rewarding about his career? …..

“My favorite thing in life, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the joy that comes from those ‘Aha!’ moments in deep learning. For me, it’s that feeling of reward for having worked so hard to solve a learning problem that had been just out of reach. I enjoy feeling it personally and find it absolutely exhilarating watching it happen to someone else!”

Life’s unexpected twists can shape your life for the better – if you’re open to learning from them

Sometimes life makes our decisions for us and we end up on a path we could never have imagined. Steven has had some major events in his life that have turned him on his trajectory, including the birth of his son and a near-death experience. Through his extraordinary life journey, he’s developed a strong sense of the importance of living by your values.

“I had a near-fatal mountain bike accident in November 2013. Surviving and recovering from this experience has changed the way I approach life. I am now much more forward-looking and make active choices to live each moment with clear purpose. Living a meaningful life is not about single achievements, but rather always making progress towards your goals”.


Doing what’s important can mean making compromises in your life

Balancing study, work and raising a family can be a difficult juggling act. Torrens University tries to ease this burden by offering flexible options, because we know that many of our students are already working hard at their jobs. One of the options for Master’s students is to complete their degree online. With a young son and a part-time teaching position, Steven decided that this would be the best option for him.

“I found Torrens online when I was looking for a university that would best meet my learning needs and help me balance them with work and new parenthood. I believe the strongest reflection of our values is the way we invest our time. I’m teaching two days a week and enjoying the rest of my time raising my three-year-old son. I’m fortunate to have a very loving wife who doesn’t mind that I’m a zombie by dinner time.

As someone in his 40s, I initially found the online study to be quite a unique and confronting higher learning experience. However, once I realised that I was sharing and building upon ideas with passionate educators working all around Australia, I couldn’t have been happier. I have found documenting my thoughts in online discussion forums to be a very intellectually rigorous practice. It has been extremely valuable reading the reflections from my peers who have had time to sit down and consider my contributions”.

Research your options and consider them carefully

Steven is a person who makes careful choices about where he directs his energy. He chose to teach because he saw it’s potential as a way to do something positive in the world. He also researched a wide range of universities online before he made his decision about where to go. So why did he choose specifically to study his Masters at Torrens?

Torrens presented itself as an institution 100% committed to higher learning that could be applied directly and meaningfully in the workplace. Now that I’m a year into my Masters course, I haven’t been disappointed. Almost every single reading and conversation has generated a new and exciting initiative for me to launch at work.

My favorite part of studying this course is how much work its designers and facilitators have done to make it apply directly to my professional context. Its instructional team is drawing on decades of international professional experience and scholarship, working to develop literacy with schools and students.

If you love something, you’ll find it challenging – that’s good, because challenges are how we grow.

Steven is due to finish his Masters in Reading and Literacy in 2019. By the time he graduates he’ll have learned whole new approaches to teaching literacy, from responding to new technology to building inclusive classrooms. He’ll also be graduating into a world where demands on teachers are increasingly complex. So, what challenges lie ahead for Steven in his future career?


For me, the biggest challenge for the Education industry is supporting teachers to maintain their passion for professional learning when faced with increasingly diverse student populations and digitally complex teaching demands.

I’m now learning how to motivate other educators to share my passion for childhood literacy. It’s hard to think of a field in education offering higher impact or more reward.


 If you’re passionate about teaching, maybe it’s time to follow Steven’s example and live in line with your values, too! Educators are shaping Australia’s future. Find out what Education courses we have on offer.

Enrol today in a Master of Education course at Torrens and be the change that you want to see in the world.

Learn more about enrolment here!




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