Is teaching an act of love?

Is teaching an act of love?

I’m not a teacher by profession.  I enjoy passing on knowledge and communicating, but there is not so much as a certificate IV lurking around the dusty recesses of my bookshelf.  I work with a roomful of educators and librarians and spend time online in various forums, reading blogs, newsletters and going to the occasional conference.

 As someone who is a mid-life career changer, I spent a very long time feeling insecure about my lack of knowledge and where I wanted to go.  Last year I came across an instructor who introduced the concept of neoteny and the idea that by giving yourself permission to screw up – you freed yourself to learn as children do.  I wish I could say that this instantly freed me from the need to be perfect, but I’m working on it.  Kaizen, kaizen.

Anyway, I digress – the result of writing at 4am. In learning about learning and teaching as I’ve done over the past 22 months, I notice that there are a lot of different styles of teaching and directing people to knowledge.

Those styles obviously tie into the personalities of the people, but I’ve found a few commonalities of approach.  For me, the teachers and knowledge facilitators that are most effective are the ones that do so with love and respect.

You find them in forums, on blogs, in classrooms or in the cubicle or office next door.  These are the people who willingly share knowledge, listen to questions and challenges and respond with understanding and respect.  These are people who can use the term “disruptive technology” and it inspires you.  They correct any errors gently and in private, praise openly and if you disagree — they are open for you to prove them wrong. 

In fact, I think the best teachers are the best learners and they are open to new ideas and like to be proven wrong because it means they have gone beyond and learned something. 

These qualities all add up to people who love learning and love sharing what they learn with others.  It’s an act of love to nuture a stranger or acquaintance by helping them make new connections and open up their world to new possibilities.  In an age where the term “friend” is being re-thought, I think there is a constant that stretches back across the ages:

The best teachers are ones that do so with love and respect for their students.  Because students can tell if someone is just showing off their superior knowledge and if someone really wants them to learn.  You’ll know in their reactions to you.

As student, choosing a teacher or mentor or trainer is the ultimate act of trust.  Hopefully, your teachers not only love their subjects – that caring will extend to the people who are looking to them for guidance and the result will be empowering and uplifting for all concerned.