Learn through teaching.
A famous Latin proverb goes “By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn”
What I really like about this proverb is that it gives meaning and significance to all our actions because at any given point we are either learning or teaching. The idea is that whilst teaching, conveying a message, imparting wisdom and the like, we are actually learning about ourselves and learning from others. Comparatively, when you are learning something, you are adding to your knowledge which will teach and inform future generations and those currently around you.
I was lucky enough to have countless opportunities to be a teacher. From teaching little 3rd grader’s to facilitating workshops, delivering presentations, leading seminars, and now currently facilitating an English conversational class for AWiB members.
Teaching a class of grade three children during my summer vacation a few years back, I was very confident in my ability to impart wisdom. Every morning I came prepared to my classroom with my chalk in one hand and students note books in the other, ready to teach them ABC’s. But every day I left that classroom having learnt something myself. For example I had one particular student who was a nuisance, a student who would be called in to detention every day. Nothing I taught him was sinking in; he would not concentrate, sit still nor listen to instructions. It was he however who taught me the most, and he who would be my most valuable student. This little boy showed me, that not everything is what it appears to be- this is a very important life lesson. When something is out of the norm or something does not go our way; our immediate response is to raise an iron fist, to punish and force our needs and wants across. But instead of reacting, we must take a step back and ask why? Why is this happening?
This boy used to disturb because it was his way of unloading his frustrations from home. With a sick mother, a brother in jail and no other form of support, he did not make sense of the world. He was angry, and he felt failed by everyone around him. So now whenever I have an encounter with someone, I am very vigilant about what I say or how I react because you can never know what that person is dealing with. So in a moment of anger, take a step back and breathe and think. Always be kind because everyone is fighting a hard battle- a battle that does not always appear visibly to us.
Teachers carry a big responsibility. What they say makes an impact and it shapes mindsets, behaviors and attitudes of those they teach. For the world’s famous author, Paulo Coelho, a teacher isn’t some one who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows. And this in and of itself is a valuable lesson for the teacher. Facilitating the AWiB English conversational class, after each class I go home having learnt so much from a group of dynamic, confident, successful and remarkable women. Each session I discover what these women know, and this knowledge they impart has an impact for me the teacher. It too shapes my mindset, my behavior and my attitude. For the past 4 sessions, our class has held riveting discussions relating to our childhood, our success, our challenges and what we love about being a woman. And I have learnt so much from these conversations, of which an important lesson is that we can forget what hurts us but can never forget what it teaches us. We learn from our tragedies, our pains and our misfortunes. You know when something bad happens to us, we can either let it define us, destroy us or strengthen us. This is an important life lesson I have learnt whilst teaching.
A great teacher is one who is constantly learning. You don’t need to be in a class room to learn. The biggest obstacles in our lives are the barriers our mind creates; you must be open to everything around you. Simply open your eyes open your ears and most importantly open up your mind. You can learn something every second of every day. You can learn from your actions and can also teach people based on your actions as well. Be open to the possibility, and possibility shall appear. So as you are reading this, remember you are a teacher, but you are also a student. Your words, your actions and your reaction are a lesson to somebody as similarly you too are learning from the words and actions of those around you.
The good thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you, you can’t fail it nor can you not meet the requirements. Learning is yours. If you see someone picking up litter from the ground, you have learnt an important lesson. If you hear someone saying please and thank you; you have learnt an important lesson. We must appreciate these small lessons and value it as true education. Because by learning we will teach, and by teaching we will learn!