September 30, 2011

Teaching and learning

I liked to teach my classmates in school and college.  Most of my classmates seemed to like the way I taught.  They found it easier to understand things when I explained them.  I enjoyed explaining things to them too, so I never missed an opportunity to teach.

Since I liked teaching so much, I decided to teach at a local computer institute.  I taught things like BASIC, C, MS Office, etc.  It was all very interesting for a while.  And then suddenly one day it all started to be boring.  Unsurprisingly my students didn't seem to understand the lessons either.

Today, after about 11 years, I think I have an insight into it.  When I had just started working, I had to learn what I was teaching.  Everyday I'd learn something, and then explain the same to the students.  Very soon there wasn't anything new I had to learn to do my job.  My work was to simply repeat what I already knew.

Most of my teachers in college were hoplessly bad.  I think it was because they faced the same issue that I did: they weren't really learning anything new.  That gave the students a terrible learning experience, and probably made the teachers' jobs suck too.  An educational institution should employ as teachers only those who are themselves learning.  Because, like Steve Yegge said, the most important thing you learn in college is how to learn on your own, and you can't teach a kid to ride a bicycle at a seminar.

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