Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

Willing To LearnOne of the enormous takeaways from writing a daily lesson learned for all of 2012 is the realization that it is possible to learn something every day if you try.  Some days it’s easy because you have been very intentional about learning some subject or pursuing something new.  Other days it’s unintentional and the particular lessons learned may be welcome or somewhat unwelcome because you learn them through mistakes or pain or the negative consequences of actions.

Because I approached each day of 2012 with the framework of my three words – ground, stretch, reflect – I was more intentional about reflecting on each day’s events, drawing some lesson from at least one thing that happened.  Without that final period of reflection, much of what happened would not have resulted in that last step of capturing some truth.  Maybe I would have learned some lessons anyway – maybe not.

As one who spent most of my adult career in a professional learning role, learning is important to me.  It always will be whether I am in such a formal role or not.  Those who spend their days teaching, facilitating, guiding, etc. know, however, that actual learning is up to the learner.  I can’t really teach anyone anything.  I can’t force someone to learn who is not willing to do so.

By the same token, it is not possible to keep people from learning if they are determined to do so.  Individual, self-motivated learners may have more work to do than if others spoon feed them, but if you pursue knowledge, it will come.  That means that nobody has an excuse of blaming others for failure to learn.

Of course, we aren’t all suited to become experts at everything.  Through a combination of natural talents, God-given gifts, environment, opportunity, effort, and the influence of others, we hone in on those things which attract our interest and fulfill our passions.  We are wonderfully and thankfully diverse in how that plays out in each of us, assuring that somehow we all fit and work together as a community in the end.

I hope you don’t think you’re finished with learning.  I know I’m not.

Leap year lesson #365 is You can learn if you try.

While walking at a local park this afternoon with my dog, I enjoyed watching a father have a “race” with his young son.  The son was probably no more than five years old.  When I first saw them, the boy was about 20 yards ahead of his dad, running for all he was worth toward a soccer goal.  The dad closed in little by little, almost catching up with him at the goal line, but – not surprisingly – the boy barely beat his dad to the finish.

Of course, the dad gave the boy a huge head start and could have left the boy in his dust if he wanted, but it was far more enjoyable for both the boy and the dad for the boy to win.  At such a young age, the boy doesn’t yet understand that his dad is letting him win.  Some day, he will.

There are two very different ways to teach your children the lesson that “winning isn’t everything.”  One way is to beat the daylights out of them in every competition you ever have with them, forcing them to get a taste of losing and realizing that they’ll live anyway.  That’s a rather cold, heartless way to do things and I don’t recommend it.  All it probably accomplishes is discouragement in the child, making them feel like they aren’t good at anything.

A more admirable approach to teach the lesson is to set the example that winning isn’t everything by letting the child win.  As the child matures and grows in skills, the parent can turn up the competition level appropriately.  The child may not come away from those early wins with the lesson “winning isn’t everything” front of mind.  There is a good chance, however, that when the child grows up and has his own children, he will pass on the tradition and he will think back to those times when his parents let him win, realizing his parents were good models of the lesson.

It’s best to teach lessons in a positive, encouraging way whenever possible.

Leap year lesson #274 is Be careful how you teach “winning isn’t everything.”

When I was in high school, someone at my church asked me to start teaching a Sunday School class for boys who were in junior high school.  I did so, had a great time, and thus embarked on a practice that – except for very few years – has been a staple in my life since then.

I took a break from teaching a few years ago after many years of co-leading the college ministry at my church.  Except for occasional substitute teaching for others, I have had the joy for a while of participating as a student under the quality leadership of others.  It was a treat to do so.

But now it’s time to put back to use those teaching inclinations and abilities – time to get back in the saddle.  Every skills inventory I’ve taken for decades identified teaching as a skill, so it seems a shame to not put it to use except for an occasional lull to rest and reload.

So Sunday morning, August 5, I begin a new class for adults at my church.  The initial target group is a number of men and women who are either in some recovery program or dealing with some serious life issues and difficulties.  Anyone else is welcome to attend, of course.  The focus is on what we are studying and not on our life circumstances.

I debated for a while about teaching again because the selfish part of me wants to continue attending another class taught by a gifted, knowledgeable man.  But when the reasons for not teaching are selfish and the reasons for teachings are other-centered, the better choice is obvious.

All of us are gifted in a different ways.  We know how good it feels to do things we do well, just as we know how frustrating it is to be expected to do something outside our comfort zones.  If you are unsure of your talents, skills, gifts or abilities, then it’s time you take a formal test or have a series of conversations with others who know you well so that you can figure out where you excel.

Doing so will help you live out leap year lesson #213 – Put your talents to work.