“Teacher” is a much maligned word – and has positive or negative connotations for folk, depending on their own experience of school and the teachers they have known.
But as facilitators and trainers, it’s a description that resonates for both of us. As trainers we deal with content of course – so there’s definitely ‘teaching’ involved there. And, although as facilitators we focus on process not content, we are still ‘teaching’ in the sense that we are modelling the process and a ‘way of being’ in the group.
Both of us, over many years, have also had experience teaching people of all ages – in Chris’s case from 5 years old to 105 years old! :) And, although there are some differences, much remains the same whatever the age of the student!
We also are firm believers that, in any group, every person is at once a teacher and a learner. Everyone has something to give, to share and to teach others – even though this may be a covert or unconscious thing, unacknowledged by the group.
So it’s in this context that we share these words from John Steinbeck:
It is customary for adults to forget how hard and dull school is. The learning by memory all the basic things one must know is the most incredible and unending effort. Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don’t believe that watch an illiterate adult try to do it. School is not so easy and it is not for the most part very fun, but then, if you are very lucky, you may find a teacher. Three real teachers in a lifetime is the very best of luck. I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
My three had these things in common. They all loved what they were doing. They did not tell – the catalyzed a burning desire to know. Under their influence, the horizons sprung wide and fear went away and the unknown became knowable. But most important of all, the truth, that dangerous stuff, became beautiful and precious.
Hmmm … so … In our work we certainly do work with the human mind and spirit. Can we help folk spring wide their horizons, dismiss their fears and make the unknown knowable? And can we play a part in helping them find a truth that is beautiful and precious?
We like to think so! :) And even if we’re not always successful, we think it’s a great aspiration to have.