Saturday, February 5, 2011

Teaching What I Don't Know

I once took a workshop in how to make presentations and to lead trainings. I was a bit surprised to see that the first subject on the agenda was “what should I teach?” I thought everyone had that one wrapped up, with the notable exception of Moi, who had no clue, apart from an intuitive hit that I was to be doing it. I thought that surely everyone would KNOW and that they teach what they knew best. So imagine my surprise when the answer evolved to be, “teach what you want to LEARN.”

It seemed crazy at first. How could I make a plan for teaching something I don’t yet KNOW? Thinking further, I remembered just how many teachers and profs who were at the top of their field, the most knowledgeable person on the planet on the subject they taught, and yet managed to impart the information with as much enthusiasm as one might endanger in a rousing discussion of wallpaper paste.

There are notable exceptions, thankfully! More commonly, however, it’s the newer, younger teachers who are full of enthusiasm and passion for their subjects. They are the ones who inspire me to learn for the sheer joy of learning, rather than just planning to cram the night before the final in hopes of getting a decent grade. I mean, it makes sense, really. I am a lot more passionate about sharing what I figured out yesterday than what I figured out ten years ago. The thrill of the newness carries a more potent energy, demanding to be shared NOW.  Look at how many people tune in to watch a car chase that's happening NOW?  Who would watch the block-by-block video of a car chase that happened last week?

Imagine how fresh a teacher would be if they taught today what they learned yesterday?  Or even what learning is happening within them as the deliver the lecture?

This idea of teaching what I want to learn excites me for two reasons.  First, there are no ends of things about which I don't yet know anything. Second, there are no ends of things about which I want to learn. Therefore, the universe of things about I may teach about is infinite. So, who wants to sign up for my first class in learning about That Which I Don’t Yet Know?  Suffice to say that there will not be a syllabus...

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