Teaching, an alternative way of learning

Whenever I hear the old adage:”Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach,” I get annoyed.

I admit, while I have had teachers who didn’t know what they were talking about,  the truth in this statement, as I see it,  is that it reflects more on the person making the statement than on teachers.  Truth be told, I tend to believe it was originally uttered by a self important hack who wanted to make himself feel better about being told he was wrong.

While it is true, I have had teachers who were so bad or discouraging that I learned just to spite them, the truth of the matter is: I learned.  More importantly, I have been blessed to have teachers who opened up all sorts of worlds to me, and I am eternally grateful for them.

To me: teaching is like coding: to code something correctly, you have to understand the process the computer needs to do, which means not only do you to have to know your subject matter, you have to be able to explain it to a person if you’re an analyst, and in code if you’re a programmer.

The human brain is an amazing computer: it is always learning, always processing what you see and hear.  You learn as you read, you learn as you write, but when you really learn, is when you try and explain a concept to someone else.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”  – Khalil Gibran

People talk about ‘Insecure Writer’s Syndrome’ and how nervous they are sharing their stories because they aren’t ‘good enough.  Let me tell you IWS, has nothing on ‘Insecure Beta Syndrome.’

You have to wonder… ‘How much help is too much help?’; ‘Are they going to think I’m picking on them, or just being thorough?’; ‘Are they going to take it as help or as me bullying them?’ or worse ‘Will they think I’m trying to take over their story?’

You have to feel your way through the writer as a person, build them up without tearing them down, and yet pick apart something they have poured their heart and soul into.  You want to help them take their writing to the next level, whatever that might be, and you cannot, if you’re being honest just say: “I like it” or “I don’t like it” or “It’s okay” or “It sucks.”

You have to tell them why.

Why do you think they should break up this monster paragraph?  Why do you think they need to change the word order in a sentence.  And always, always tell them why you like something, why it does or doesn’t work for you,  and suggest what they could do to make it better without writing it for them. All of which leads them to their threshold and if we are honest and thorough, we find our way to our own as well.

I have never learned something so well and thoroughly as when I have tried to explain it to someone else.

“Learning is finding out what you already know, Doing is demonstrating that you know it, Teaching is reminding others that they know it as well as you do.  We are all learners, doers, and teachers” – Richard Bach

What have you taught today?

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