You are a teacher. You teach your children, your grandchildren, your employees. You teach the players on the sports team you coach, your religious flock, your dog. You may try to teach your cat a few things – good luck with that.
Some of us get paid to teach. I am in that group, along with millions of other individuals worldwide.
I recently re-read an excellent nonfiction book about a teacher, Tuesdays with Morrie. The book focuses on a university teacher who gradually died of a dreadful neural disorder.
The Morrie book made a point very similar to one made by Frank McCourt in his excellent memoir, Teacher Man, about his days teaching high school: If you want to teach, take opportunities to teach whenever they arise.
For instance, Morrie used his decline toward death as an opportunity to teach others about both how to live and how to die. Frank McCourt used his amazement about the creativity students showed in their forged excuse notes (for missing school, etc.) and generated an assignment for students to write an excuse note from Adam and Eve to God.
One day I taught a group of international students, who needed practice in taking notes in a class taught in English. I volunteered to do the teaching in part because I had a personal agenda — I wanted the students, who were making a difficult transition to a new culture and language, to learn more than how to take notes. So I taught them psychological strategies for solving problems.
Another time I seized a teaching opportunity when I went to play softball with a coed group that included some players who were very good and quite athletic and some who were closer to beginners. When I saw one player throw a ball very hard to another player who was not capable of catching the ball, I suggested that we all consider how hard to throw the ball, even in the heat of game play.
I knew from my observations long ago how easy it is to injure someone by throwing the ball too hard for the person to handle. To my pleasure, our best player later did as I suggested on a close play, got an out, and killed no one. I was not creative in my teaching, but I did seize the opportunity that arose.
What did you teach today? What could you teach someone tomorrow?