“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.”
I was watching her tie the knot. Even though I’d seen it several times, and felt I understood what she was doing, every time I tried to do it myself it didn’t look like the one she was tying.
“Look at it again. It’s easy. You go like this, then you twist the rope, then turn it like this…”
It didn’t really matter how many times she showed me, I wasn’t going to get it. I was missing something.
Finally I suggested, “Maybe if you steer my hands I’ll get the correct motion?”
She took my hands and started going through the knot. Just as we got to the point where it went awry for me, we stumbled together. The knot didn’t end up the way she’d done it herself.
“That’s weird? Why isn’t it working?”, she said.
Somehow it just didn’t translate. We tried it a couple of times before she said, “I’ll leave you to it. I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, but you’ll figure it out.”
And she was right! After a couple of minutes I managed to tie the knot properly.
While I tried to understand what exactly I’d done differently when I got it wrong, I couldn’t recreate it.
Since she couldn’t feel how I used my muscles the most likely explanation is that there was a difference between the angle or force I applied to it that didn’t transfer from her movements to mine.
This incident reminded me of a similar experience in school.
We were supposed to climb the ropes in gym class. Being fat I didn’t think I had the physique to do it.
But there was another problem too.
The teacher would show us how to do it, yet not everyone got it. Less than half of the 20 kids in my class could do it.
I didn’t realize until much later that the issue wasn’t that we were “fat”, “unathletic” or “stupid”.
The issue was that the teacher could show us how to do it, but he couldn’t explain how to do it. Couple that with the fact that not everyone could understand what muscles to use and the movements involved in doing it.
Now, does this mean that these two people were “bad” teachers?
Nope. They do a lot of good in the world merely by attempting to teach us new skills and give us new understanding.
There’s something to be said about trying to educate as many people as possible. Naturally some people will fall by the wayside.
Maybe there’s not be a lot you can do for them if you’re aim is to make those already good at something even better, or hopefully the best.
Then again, perhaps those who’ve already acquired the skills could benefit from being turned into teachers? They might even have insights into the problems their fellow learners are facing?
While language and showing each other how to do things isn’t a substitute for mind transferrance, it’s the best we’ve got.
We’re so focused on what we see and completely miss out on what’s in the white space, what’s not there.
There isn’t a string connecting one mind to another.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!