The Essence of Teaching

The Silent and Brave revision: Page #70

As we move towards completion of the sound room door, I want to express my thanks to Bill, the carpenter who has done so much to help us with the project. Lately he has been traveling to Oregon to work on other things, and this time before he left I convinced him to let me take the door and frame so that we could sand and stain it while he was gone. I thought that would take up our time and keep us productive until he returned to put the door in place. Yesterday I called him to tell him that we forgot the door hinges and latch in his truck when he dropped off the door, and he returned my call to say that the objects would be on his front stoop.

Message: pick up the pieces, and finish the damn project yourself.

That is the essence of a teacher. There are many who can tell other people how to do things, just as there are many who can follow directions. But the true teacher, and the true student, use their combined knowledge to move forward. When I ask Bill, “How do I get that blemish off the frame?” and he answers “These pieces you see here will have to be glued and screwed together like so . . .” it is acknowledgement that he has shown me the way and now I am going to have to figure out how to proceed on my own. He has shown me the things to do, and the questions I have I can answer by myself. This, to me, is the essence of teaching. Not telling someone how to do something, because we all have to learn to do things ourselves. Rather, it is showing the pupil the fundamentals, so that they can move forward in an intelligent manner on their own. That is what fosters enthusiasm and creativity. That is true teaching. I don’t know that many people in the world can do it. When you find one, I suggest you listen carefully to what they have to say.

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