“The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” – Seymour Papert
The greatest lesson a teacher can give is learning me how to learn. Besides getting our questions answered they inspire us to go out there and find out for ourselves. Lessons may come from people we least expect it from.
It was a summer night I went out with a friend and just walked around Stockholm. I was a bit aimless at the time and had been thinking about continuing my studies.
It was getting late and we were heading towards the subway. We noticed a man who looked like a biker sitting on the sidewalk across the street. He had a bad cough and after a few seconds he tipped over on his side. There were people walking by and ignoring him.
I’m ashamed to admit that my first thought was: “Why isn’t anybody helping him?” when it should’ve been obvious to just do it myself. So after a few seconds we ran across the street to help him back up.
When he’d hocked up a loogie he looked at us and said: “Why’d you help me?”. We were a little surprised and the best I could conjure up was: “Ehm, my mom worked as a nurse”. We asked if he needed to get to the hospital or something. He just laughed and said that he was fine.
We sat and talked for a while and it turned out that he’d been through the Bosnian war during the 90’s and come to Sweden as a refugee. He’d tried to get his life together but had given up and found camaraderie and security in a biker club.
He told us a story about how he’d always wanted a Harley and that he’d picked one out at a dealership. He got a chance to earn the money within 6 months, fortunately he spared us the details of what he had to do to get the money. He’d gone down to the dealership and put the cash on the table. The salesman had taken a look at the pile and said: “Unfortunately, we don’t accept cash payments here, sir. You need to go to the bank and transfer it.”
Whether or not this story is true I don’t know. But what he said next really made a deep impact on me: “You can get whatever you want in life. You just need to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself”.
Now, i’d heard the quote “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” (Seneca) before. But this felt directed to me personally.
Some time after that I had a chance to pursue my next big goal of being a music producer. I have this man to thank that I get to do what I do today. I don’t know his name, but I will remember him forever. All I needed was that little nudge and a reminder to keep my eyes and ears open for opportunity.
A quick thought. Teachers should rethink the question: “Any questions?”. This doesn’t encourage people to ask questions. It’s passive and makes them think the classic “what if i’m the only person who didn’t get it, I don’t want to look stupid!”.
It should be an engaging request, like: “I’ll give you some time to come up with as many questions as possible”. This challenges people to actively participate. As an extra bonus it eliminates the feeling of being stupid!
Here i’d also like to acknowledge my clients, students and mentees. You are my colleagues, teachers and mentors.
Here are some quotes:
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” – C.S. Lewis
“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself” – Dr. Seuss
“A teacher enlarges people in all sorts of ways besides just his subject matter.” – Wallace Stegner
“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” – Elbert Hubbard
“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” – Lily Tomlin
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams
The 10.000 hour rule isn’t all you need to know, remember that perfection is an asymptote. It gets harder after a certain point to get better. Focus on mastering maybe one or two things, but imagine all the fun stuff you can learn by devoting just 20 hours to it. Maybe you can even incorporate some of what you learn there into your mastered skills?
Josh Kaufman – The First 20 Hours: