The art of teaching holds different values to different people. The results of the act depends on the nature of the receptive side as much as it does on the teacher’s. To be that person, each teacher works differently. So who is a good teacher? Someone who works day and night studying the contents they’re gonna teach the next day? Someone who is very kind to the students? Someone who keeps their knowledge updated constantly? But are those who are certified as teachers the only ones who can be called that? I would say “no”, because I got the experience both on and off the job.
I found it in teaching my classmates the portions for upcoming exams. I found it in training a friend to talk on stage. A guy only moderately knowledgeable in English with a lot of stage fright, he once asked me how I was able to just up and talk about things on stage. I ended up helping him. There never was much time in the class to talk about it so I extended the training to texting in the evenings, pointing out the grammatical errors he made and the ones that students usually do. I taught him the importance of confidence, body language and enunciation, how to get them right. I made some tweaks in the way he would talk. The small lessons continued for a few months. I took up more seminars so he could watch and learn even though it was a class filled with typical youngsters who didn’t much appreciate when someone was teaching on stage.
One day he willingly accepted the seminar given to him. The time came for him to perform. From the last desk he strode to the front, calmly leaned his palms on the front desk, threw a 100% confident smile and said, “good morning!” The chatter all over the class died down and he levelled them all with a look that demanded attention and yet friendly. That day, I learned that I loved to teach not because I can, but because it made me happy to see someone climb the ladder with my help. The countless times I had taught someone something before, I never really gave much thought to why I liked it. But lucky for me, I ended up with a job that had me personally training young minds in English.
One such young fellow who happened to come directly under my care didn’t know a lot more than the alphabet. “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn”, said John Cotton Dana. What exactly does a teacher learn? All the ever evolving knowledge out there in the world? Will that be enough? With that student, as I proceeded to teach him beginning with vowels, consonants and articles… I learned to be a teacher who is understanding and patient.
There was another smart student who liked to look down on those language training sessions. With him, I learned how to make a student learn before he knows what he is doing.
The more I carried on with it the more I realised being someone’s teacher helps me know so much about the person, and also it teaches me to be a better everything. Before I knew it, I got a chance to teach my sister how to be a writer. Being younger than her, I always looked up to her, who was so good at everything. It startled me quite a bit to be the one who is better at something, even though I knew it was only because I had years of experience in creative writing and she had none. Surprisingly, it was quite an enjoyable journey. I wondered if we were going to be authors together in the future. But now and then I had my doubts. She is a quick learner, smart and talented. But her urge to write was not as strong as mine. It had me thinking, “she hasn’t discovered her dream yet. She doesn’t even know she has one.” As if to prove my thoughts, every time I asked her she would say “My dream is to make a good living and for us to live prosperously forever.” She didn’t realise that it was everyone’s wish. Everybody wants to earn and live comfortably.
I decided to take it upon myself to teach her how to find her dream, my biggest challenge ever. I kept prompting her to do things I knew she could enjoy. It definitely helped that I know her pretty well. We’re sisters after all. I tested her response to those tasks, calculating where her interests were gravitating. I brought the options to a very short list and tested her once more on which she would go first to. It took me some time to figure out exactly what she was looking for. Quite unexpectedly, I happened to stumble upon a picture she drew. I knew well she intended it to be a portrait. But that was not what I saw. “About time!” I said. “Now I know which way to lead you.”
I talked to her about toon drawing, the difference between that and regular arts. As expected she turned out to be quite good. Finally after years, she could happily settle with one hobby. “Oh my God! I can’t keep track of time once I start drawing this!” She said. With a smile, I told her “Then this is who you are.” She now steadily walks the path to properly learn the art and become a toon artist. Filled with pride, once again I learn that this kind of teaching brings me happiness the most; Helping people find out who they really are, for I know how much I struggled with my own self. Here we both are now, on our way to achieve our dreams, and of course, I’m looking for someone else I could help.