I was reading some of the comments from this blog and it got me thinking about the subject of teachers. One person was remarking that too many people in the new age community try to pass themselves off as teachers when they might not be qualified. I found it to be a little bit depressing, I think one of the things that’s so cool about the new age community is the way people share the information they have learned. However, I agree that the waters of truth can get muddy pretty easily when it comes to sharing information.
That got me wondering, what qualifies a person as a teacher? Is it a wall full of certificates, a life full of experiences. Is it wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and spectacles, or putting on robes and retreating to the mountains to live in isolation? When does the student become a teacher, and what is it that makes somebody a good teacher?
Some of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered didn’t consider themselves teachers at all. They looked at life more from the perspective of a student, and they never stopped learning or attempting to better themselves. Some of those teachers had degrees and some of them did not. What made them great teachers to me, is that they could share with me something of value that they were passionate about.
While they have come from different backgrounds and hold different perspectives, I think the best teachers I’ve encountered have a few things in common: A respect for the knowledge they are sharing, and a passion that drives them to continue growing in their understanding of it through research and practice, along with a strong desire to share it with the world.
For those teachers, their mastery of the subject shined through in the passion in which they studied it, and put it into practice in their own lives. While they might have had the certificates and degrees to back up that title of teacher, the didn’t give a damn about the title because they were focused on the substance behind it. The titles and certificates they received ultimately came because they excelled at being students, at learning, and more importantly, they loved what they were learning about.
Perhaps being a good teacher means being a good student, by putting the work into a subject enough that you understand it thoroughly, can explain it simply, and also put it into practice and test it out.
I think being a good teacher also involves empowering other people to be good students. You direct others to the sources which have helped you grow, not just sharing a piece of the information, but all of it; so others can fully examine it and discern for themselves if what you are sharing is beneficial to them.
I think there is nothing wrong with sharing what inspires you, what works for you, what has caused growth in your life. I think there’s nothing wrong with sharing your perspective and outlook, because everyone brings a unique way of looking at things. I think everyone can be a teacher.
I think the main problem we have in this age of information is that we are not always being good students, and we’re not always respecting massive amount information we have available to us. There is a wealth of information right at our fingertips, often times we get lazy and just accept it as truth without thinking about it or questioning it a whole lot. We forget to look into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of things.
Who is this passing along this information. What exactly is it they are saying and why are they saying it, what is their motivation? When and where does it apply in my own experience, and how would I go about putting it into practice if it does apply. How did this person sharing the information come to find out about it for themselves, how has it worked for them?
Often we forget to ask important questions regarding what it is we are learning about, and who we are learning it from. When we forget to ask these questions we run the risk of accepting and passing along information that could be incomplete, or at it’s worst, dangerous. We can avoid this by being better students, fully researching a subject and understanding it to the best of our ability, as well as testing it for ourselves.
Please keep in mind, I’m not promoting cynicism. I think that disbelieving everything is just as bad as believing everything you come across, the result is still the same, you’re still dishonoring information and truth.
I’m also not bashing on sharing your experiences. I think there’s real value in sharing your growth with other people, letting them know, “Hey, I’m still trying to figure this out, but so far it’s pretty freaking cool, and this is what I’ve learned!”
What I’m promoting is the idea of discernment, and being a better student. Taking a look at everything objectively, researching it, and testing it for yourself to see if it works, then passing along your results, as well as where you got the information you’re sharing.
I think if we want to be good teachers, we should work on being good students first, the title of “teacher” will come with time. There’s no shame in being a student as long as you do it well and with passion.