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. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit - John Steinback
A Surface Level Understanding
On the surface, teaching appears to be a rather straight forward profession. We have the teacher on the one hand and the student on the other. The teacher is given the task of educating the student and imparting his/her wisdom from a certain domain.
One of the implications of this teacher/student dynamic is that there is a linear journey that the student needs to go on. It is assumed that the teacher is further along this journey and that they will help the student to up level. Each mistake will be corrected with a new adjustment until the day arrives where the student is deemed worthy enough to graduate from the class.
A Bug in the System
The problem with this assumption is that learning is not found in a single linear path. This linearity of the learning journey assumes that the teacher has seen every nook and cranny that the student will see. The problem arises when a student catches a glimpse at one of the many other paths that lead to the same destination.
Real learning begins when a student sees a path that a teacher has overlooked. As a teacher we have an instantaneous choice to make. We can either become curious to our own blindspot or put an abrupt end to this perceived personal attack.
The problem with Blindspots is that they are Real
The problem with being an expert is that I can only ever be an expert who has expert blindspots. It is much easier, and more aligned with reality, to embrace blindspots as a fact. When I am willing to accept that I have and always will have blindspots the energy I bring to teaching fundamentally changes.
I start to feel my curiosity emerge and I feel more lighter about the whole experience. I am more receptive to listening to the student from a place of curiosity and more willing to communicate and clarify certain points for both my understanding and theirs.
The limits of my language means the limits of my world - Ludwig Wittgenstein
When I approach a lesson as an opportunity to help the student and at the same time remain open to seeing through another one of my blindspots then we enter win/win territory. In this space I am no longer just helping to expand my student's vision of the world but also my own.
Over to you...
Have you ever learned something from a student that allowed you break free of an assumption? For the next lesson with your student my challenge for you is to simply listen and respond and see where the conversation takes you.