A true teacher is not the one with the most knowledge,
but one who causes the most others to have knowledge.
- Neale Donald Walsch -
We are often taught that one has to study and become a master of a subject first before they are qualified to teach it. Surely teacher certification programs have their place but I’m not talking about the bureaucracy of becoming a full-time teacher. I’m talking about a general truth of life: Teaching forces you to quickly jump from being informed and understanding a lesson, to knowing and living a lesson. To understand something is one thing, but to actually be able to teach it, in your own words, and have the other person understand what you’re talking about requires a much higher level of competency.
For example, you may be a nursing or med-student and conceptually understand how nerve impulses work, but to really ramp up your mastery on the subject, teach it to your peers. They will ask questions for clarification that will undoubtedly reveal gaps in your knowledge. If you don’t have the answers to their questions, you will find out and then get back to them. The very act of instructing deepens your own understanding of the material and accelerates you toward becoming an expert. You can’t just pretend you know the subject when you’re going to teach it to someone else.
So in many ways, teaching requires confidence and humility. Confidence to feel that you are a master of what you studied and prepared for the students, and humility in that your students also teach you things too! Teaching puts you on the fast-track to stepping up your game in the most humble way.
Start by teaching a loving friend or family member so you get comfortable with it. You could do it for the most random things, too:
- Want to learn the piano? Start getting lessons (in person or online), and then immediately pass those lessons on to someone else who also wants to learn the piano. This will engage you in the practice at a much deeper level than “just” a student since it reinforces all the lessons.
- Want to learn how to speak French? Start learning it and then try to relay what you’ve learned to a friend who also loves the language. When your friend asks you questions, you will get curious, look it up, figure it out and let them know. This will accelerate your understanding faster than anything else. Plus, you’re doing a profound service putting yourself in that position. That’s a win/win situation for you and the universe.
All of this really says something about how much better we function when we are interacting each other and helping each other rather than trying to grow in isolation and competition.
“To teach is to learn twice.”
~ Joseph Joubert ~