I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years; began teaching kids in public schools, then training teachers, and now training adults ranging from 18 to 86 years. As an experienced teacher, I have come to the conclusion that the most valuable result of learning is the gains in potential to teach oneself.
Today, most people living in a modern society have a great deal of access to information. Some may argue this can cloud one’s ability to discern between what is credible and what isn’t. The surge of information may be overwhelming for some, resulting in people seeking others to help orient them amongst a sea of data, opinions and promises.
The feeling of being lost is understandable. In addition to a tremendous exposure to information, many people today find themselves desperate; desperate to: look a certain way, optimize health, obtain a partner, start a family, or find work. With a simple search one may easily find a person or a system that claims to have the answers one is looking for. George Carlin once said something to the effect of: Any salesman who keeps smiling is probably selling you something you don’t need.
I’m not suggesting that one shouldn’t seek teachers, however, I am suggesting that no one has the answers that one is looking for except for oneself. Turn your bullshit detectors on, I implore. Learn, be inspired and experiment. Ultimately, no one should tell another person how to eat, act or think. Always question and seek answers for yourself through experimentation, evidence, and common sense.
I am a former school teacher and current personal trainer. I have taught people how to think, read and write in a public school setting in order to provide structure so that, when they are ready, they may find their own manner of generating ideas, testing them and articulating understandings. As a teacher, I would make this clear to my students throughout the learning process. It is important for those who put themselves in positions of authority to encourage student self-reliance.
As a personal trainer, I train clients to ultimately train themselves. I orient them within the gym, introduce them to equipment and how it is safely used, and invite them to move in a variety of ways, allowing them to develop preferences. I teach them the fundamentals of building stability, strength, flexibility and balance. Most importantly, I encourage clients to listen to their bodies, identify limits and work within them. I offer clients the opportunity to establish a foundation (both physical and mental structure) on which to build.
Once one gains proficiency and confidence, they are then challenged to create: to write, think, move… There is no way around this. I believe human beings were made to progress and change, and not to lie in stagnation. We all have a responsibility to learn to care for ourselves in order to grow. Life is dynamic. Our bodies are constantly changing. As a result, our actions should support this change. Teachers, parents and friends all provide a little help along the way – the blessing communities provide.
Amidst this process, be sure not to mistake the teacher outside of you, however, for the ultimate teacher within.