There’s a saying I’ve encountered several times in the past few days. Here’s how it goes:
It’s one of those sayings that is contagiously cute, but is it true?
Okay. You don’t have to be the smartest guy or gal in the room. In fact, being the smartest may not always be an advantage. Here’s what I mean.
Learning anything is great. Being in the learner’s seat is a great place to be! In order to learn, you need to do something extremely important. It’s not something everyone falls in to right off the bat. In fact, many fail in this one simple objective. That objective? Shut off the voice in your head. The one that’s always telling you the way things should be done. And let someone, anyone, show you the ropes!
It’s not something everyone can do right away. And the less you know about your teacher, the harder it’s going to be for you to take the learner’s role. The great thing is that your teacher may be feeling some of the same anxiety you are about being the teacher!
Here’s an example…
I want to learn to speak in front of an audience. I’ve never done this before, and understandably I am pretty nervous about this. My coach (teacher), I know, has done some public speaking. I wouldn’t call her the world’s greatest speaker, but she can hold an audience and get a message across, all the while looking comfortable and unflustered!
Nothing to it, right? Except she can do it, and I can’t!
The only way, I can learn anything is to swallow my pride and place myself in the hands of my teacher! And vice versa, the only way I am going to be able to teach anything (to impart knowledge, to teach a skill) will be to do the same thing–to adopt a stance of humility towards my learner.
You see, according to Mr. Palmer, the teacher and the learner are the same! I learn more from teaching than I’m ever going to learn from reading a book or watching a YouTube!
So let’s get back to my public speaking example. The only way my teacher will teach me to give a speech, calmly and without getting flustered, is if I place myself totally in her hands! And conversely, the only way she will understand how to teach me will be to see the lesson through my eyes!
Parker Palmer says you learn just as much as the teacher as your learner does. You too are the learner!