Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish this person would just explain this?” even though that’s exactly what the person was supposed to be doing? We call it “teaching!” If so, you may have done the same kind of thinking I have lately. That is, no real surprise here, “Good teachers are hard to find!” I think most would agree with this, but why? I’ve been making some observations.
A few events have happened in my life lately that I would blame for floating this subject to the top of my think tank. One would be that I recently moved my blog and did a complete overhaul on everything! Incase you’ve never done that and don’t hold a computer science degree, like I don’t, then let me tell ya that migrating and designing your blog requires a bit of technical skill that you don’t just wake up with.
I’ve had to teach myself a lot over the many years that I’ve been blogging and often found myself, especially the last few weeks, wondering why some of the greatest “experts” who do this work daily, are the least likely to explain it well.
The second reason is that I just returned from touring a seminary school and have recently spoken to many people about future plans and graduate degrees. Unlike moving and redesigning my blog, I’m happy to say this has been a pleasant experience. For the most part, I’ve conversed with helpful and beneficial people. Yet, as I consider options and I hear of folks who would be considered experts in their fields, I find myself sure hoping they don’t end up being teachers and professors like so many others I’ve encountered such as in my blog migration. In other words: “Sure, okay, they know a lot, but do they teach it well?”
So this has me thinking, “What do good teachers have in common? Why do they often seem so rare? How could I improve?” and other such questions. Here are my immediate observations in no particular order. I’d be interested to know if you’d agree or add anything.
Why Good Teachers Are Hard To Find
Of course some just want to profit off of you. Simply, if some can make themselves sound like experts (and maybe are) but most importantly convince you that it’s way over your head, then you’ll likely end up paying them to do it themselves. They’re okay with this, cause it’s actually quite easy for them. Sometimes, sure this is reasonable. Other times, this is quite frankly, straight up selfish, profiteering, pompous stuff – to put it nicely. However, I think this is fairly rare in most of my experiences.
Unfortunately I’m convinced that in our society we’re all just a little too booked and rushed. Too busy. Too spread thin. This leaves us perhaps really quite capable, educated, talented or gifted in some area, yet quite limited, unable and incapable of giving someone the time they need to fully learn the subject or task. I’ve known many people who truly are caring and wish to be helpful, but they sadly can’t manage the schedule well enough to really be of any value, and thus slop something together that ends up rather insufficient. We’ve all been here.
I’ve been this person, and I think it’s something we all struggle with in a very real sense. The person who refuses to admit that a particular area, job, task, subject matter, etc., just isn’t their calling. The blogging world is full of this! On about any subject you can find a whole slew of folks who claim to be bomb.com on the matter but they don’t know squat. The most ironic are the countless numbers who want to be the go-to resource for all things “blogging” – yes, blogs about blogging are innumerable – yet their own blogs are terrible examples.
Here’s the worst though, this is perhaps most ironic, and sadly too common, in ministry and leadership. If you claim to be leading others and teaching them about a Jesus you call “Lord”, yet your own life is an unorganized, relationally, financially, physically, unhealthy jacked-up mess, then are you really capable and called to be a leader (at least at this time)? This is heavy, and there’s so many more layers to peel back here, but it’s the truth. I see it too often I fear. (1 Tim 1:7)
This leads me to my next observation of “teachers” that seemingly have zero passion. Sometimes we can have all the know-how and still just miss the show-how because we just don’t care! Maybe we don’t care about the person, or maybe we don’t care about the subject matter. I hope the latter, but let’s be honest, both can happen.
Whether we start out fired up and find it’s not all we hoped for, harder, less gratifying, or whatever the case may be, I think it’s sad how many people seem to be doing because it’s routine, familiar, pays the bills, etc., and just won’t make the necessary changes to get themselves lit up. If you aren’t inspired, you won’t inspire. Boom. Oh, I say “passionless people” because sometimes it can simply be the person on the other side of the learning as well – receiving instruction. The best is when both are pumped for the matter at hand.
It’s possible I’m being optimistic here (though I don’t make a habit of such), but I believe that in the greatest number of true experts I know, they fail at being great teachers, and often even good teachers, simply because they no longer relate to the student or pupil they’re teaching!
As tragic as it may be, it makes sense really – the better you get at something, the farther away you are from the beginner. However, I don’t believe we should allow this to justify anything. In my opinion, the greatest teacher of all time, God in human form as Jesus, knew everything yet still found a way to relate concepts and practices of utmost importance to the most distant pupils ever. When we forget where it is we had to begin, we are no longer a good teacher. Again, I think this is most often the case, but the bright side is that it should be the easiest to correct!
The Ability Is A Gift
It’s important to remember that in all actuality, being a good teacher is a gift. Sure we are all called to teach in some sense, and one can always learn and improve, but that’s exactly why we need to learn to look to those who are truly gifted in it, and glean all we can from them.
The great thing about good teachers is that they’re always working double time. I mean, no matter the subject matter they’re teaching, they are always teaching how to be a good teacher! Sometimes we just don’t realize it. I sure stop taking them for granted when I have to piece together information from 37 not-so-great teachers and essentially teach myself though! It sure motivates me to check myself too. Remember, the Answer Book says, “not many of you should become teachers” (James 3:1); so thank the ones who you know are doing an excellent job. It’s not easy.
So let’s ask ourselves: What other reasons would you add to this list? Do you have experience with these kind of “teachers”? Do you see yourself in any of these points as the teacher? Where do you most often, or lately, fail at?