Starting when I was a young child, I enjoyed learning, soaking up information like a sponge, as young children are supposed to do. This thirst for knowledge didn’t really stop when I got to school either. I was usually interested in what my teachers had to offer and treated them with great respect, taking for granted that they had some special knowledge or qualifications that allowed them to be in the role of “teacher” while we were “students,” the receivers of information. I figured that good information, solid information has to come from good solid sources: my parents, my teachers or any number of published non-fiction books, like the encyclopedia, the almanac or the Guinness Book of World Records. These last two I collected every year for a good chunk of my childhood to keep track of when and how these known facts might have changed or our collective knowledge of what happens in the universe might be updated.
I guess I never had to be taught how to learn or why it was important… I’m still seeking knowledge every day. What I never learned in school and what I’m still trying to grok far into middle age is how much or what kind of knowledge do you need to have in order to be the “teacher?” I have never thought of myself as qualified to be the bestower of knowledge. I regularly qualify what I know with caveats that “it’s just my opinion,” or “someone else would know more,” or “you should confirm by doing your own research here…” I don’t know where or how my teachers got their confidence to get in front of the class and proclamation to know something is true, because I honestly feel like everything we know, at least scientifically, is subject to being proven wrong or part of an incomplete picture of the universe.
So what are the skills required to teach or bestow knowledge on others? I would say confidence is right up there, possibly more important than the knowledge itself. And I am absolutely NOT saying teachers aren’t especially qualified to do their jobs. What I am saying is that it is likely that people, even my peers, and even as young as early school age, have also been learning from me without my explicit knowledge that they are. While I have only recently determined that within my life, there is something you can learn every day from absolutely anyone and everyone you engage with, and others may have known this intuitively. I may have already been a teacher to millions.
This is all the more reason to focus on yourself, the attitude you bring to your daily life, and to acknowledge and practice gratitude for the lessons you learn from others on a daily basis. Humans are social creatures; we do our best work with others. The right combination of people in the right space and the right time can and will change the world, as long as each of us takes on the role of teacher and student simultaneously whenever we are interacting with others.
So class, my writings are my lessons for you. As I muse through my days and weeks, thinking constantly, taking in sensory input constantly, watching and listening to the world around me, I synthesize and distill this info for myself, for you and for posterity. I am wise beyond my years. My experience is valuable. I have lessons to share. I am good enough to teach not because of what I already know, but because I am constantly learning. And I am only starting to see that now.
2 thoughts on “What is “Good Enough?””
Have you ever read Neil Postman? The end of your second paragraph had me smiling and thinking of him–everything he’s written, really, but particurly his reflections on knowledge as a quest (not a commodity).
It’s rare I encounter Postman-esque reflections when not actually reading Postman, so that I am delighted to have read this post. I have learned from you, and I am grateful.
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I have not, Deborah, but now I might have to! Thank you humbly for the recommendation and what I can only interpret as very high praise! Welcome to my small but mighty list of followers!