Friday, August 29, 2008

Teaching is an Art

I'm home from my trip to the island of Maui in Hawaii. My mom, niece and I had a wonderful time.

Here is a picture of us at the wedding we attended on Oahu! Talk about paradise!!

While we were on Maui, my niece and I took a surfing lesson. It was my second lesson and her first.

Sarah and I before our surfing lesson:

I had a lesson on the Oregon coast last summer (in a wet suit and FREEZING cold water!). This one on Maui was a bit disappointing in comparison.

I have no doubt that our instructor was an excellent surfer himself. No doubt what-so-ever. He didn't seem to possess much interest or skill at actually transmitting that knowledge to others.

First off, we were confined to a small area with about 100 other newbie surfers. You couldn't take off on a wave without someone being right in front of your path, or emerging on top of you as you stood up. That wasn't our instructor's fault... but it was not conducive to learning. It would be like trying to learn to drive... your first time... on an LA freeway.

But something else was lacking in our lesson. Our surfing instructor was so much an expert, that I believe he had forgotten what it was like to 'not know.'

We all know what its like to understand something so completely, that it is difficult to relate to people who have 'no knowledge' of the subject.

I believe that was part of the problem with our instructor. He gave us a few basic concepts, but didn't cover the mechanics that would be needed for a beginner to really put together the moves you need to get up (and stay up) on a wave.

I am somewhat of an expert in particular aspects of technology. I have successfully taught many people to use computers. Some of my friends who are even greater experts than I cannot teach new users. They find it too frustrating, and they are unable to 'go back' to the basics, even in the interest of good teaching.

Being great at something, and being a great teacher do not necessarily go hand in hand. It take patience, understanding, and an ability to 'go back' in order to be a good teacher. Not everyone has that gift!

We need to respect the teachers in our lives. It is, indeed, a gift!

Also, when we are called upon to teach, it is important to try to put ourselves int he place of the beginner... and 'go back' to what a beginner would need to understand!

Happy learning... and teaching! :)

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