Don’t Be Afraid to be a Teacher…You Teach All the Time

Okay, so the title may sound totally contradictory to what I do.  In the limited time I spend watching TV, I hate commercials advertising an educational product that basically puts adults/guardians/ parents down about their ability to teach their children even the basics.  I have heard many times in my life from other people: I can’t teach my children, I’m not a teacher, I could never do what you do, I don’t understand how you do what you do, etc.  I politely smile and say “thank you” but on the inside I want to scream.

Humans learn all of the time whether children or adults.  We begin our learning process in utero when we know what our biological mother’s heartbeat sounds like and we continue learning throughout life.  Learning doesn’t begin and end with our formal educations however long or short that may be. The most useful information I received out of a psychology course is that learning is a change in behavior.  I agree with that 100%.  I can book learn all I want but unless the information is drilled in, it is easy to forget.  By learning something of significance, my behavior is changed.  Let me give one example.  In my EMT class, the State of Connecticut requires hospital ER observation hours.  People usually go the ER because they are sick and don’t see the other side of it.  By having to sit with hospital staff and watching traumas come through the door, how I think about and how I treat the people who take care of me when I need help changes significantly.  I have learned and my behavior has changed.  The opposite can also be true.  When you see someone, something, or some kind of group for what they really are, you’re behavior changes with and towards them.  You may still have civil conversations and say “hello” but the relationship will never be the same.

I learn from you, you learn from me.  We learn from each other.  We are all capable of learning all the time.  Every person changes each other’s behavior.

Any adult who is functionally literate can teach another person the basics to read.  It drives me up the wall when people tell me they need professionals to do things for them.  The biggest turning point for me regarding this attitude came with one client who was taking a placement test and said they hadn’t looked at multiplication in years and were afraid of failure.  I asked if they balance their checkbook and “yes” was the answer.  I told them they could pass the test and they did.  We spent two hours going over the multiplication tables and basic algebra and it was one of my biggest highlights when I received the news they had passed.  I don’t care by how much as long as they don’t.  I had another client who passed a similar test by one(1) point and they got the job they wanted.  They learned and I learned and their were changes in both our behaviors for the good.

If you can read, someone else taught you to read, and you in turn can teach someone else, especially if that person is your child.  In times past before our educational system was structured the way it is today, many people learned to read by candlelight with their other family members because that was the only way to go.  We have forgotten that as a society.

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