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Teach

“Those who can’t do, teach.”

– Some asshole

I used to very seriously stand by that quote.  I figured if you’re busy doing, you’re way too busy to teach what you’re doing.

I was wrong.  If you’re too busy to teach your craft, at some point you need to change priorities and teach your craft.  Now, I think teaching is one of the most important things we can do.  It’s a giving act, can be selfless, and generally helps the student as much as the teacher.

Today, I’m going to make a case against the following arguments:

  • I’m not good enough/don’t know enough to teach.
  • I make too many mistakes to teach.
  • I don’t really know what I’m doing, how could I teach?
  • There are so many people who are better than me, I can’t teach yet.
  • You have to really have something mastered to teach it.
  • I’m just not quite ready to teach yet.
  • I don’t know how to teach.
  • I’m not a good teacher, I really suck at it.

Alright.  Are you ready to have all of your thoughts and opinions debunked and start teaching?

Let’s break into it…

Requirements

Before I tell you that everything you believe about yourself in regards to teaching is wrong, let’s agree on something together.

To teach something, you have to have learned it, and used it at least once or twice.

I’m of the opinion that if you can make a list of steps, and you can walk someone through those steps – you can teach your process.

The quality level of that teaching may not be that of a university professor, but you can at least write a blog.

If you just learned something from a tutorial and haven’t played with it enough to put your own little spin on it – you probably don’t know it well enough to teach it.

Otherwise… let’s get to the meat of this.

You can teach

Let’s start there.  You can teach, and you should teach.  When and how is completely up to you.  You can make videos, do presentations, write, or anything else you come up with.  But you definitely should complete the act of teaching.

Why?  At the very least:

  • Your mastery grows.  You’ll fill in learning gaps and I’d argue you might get more out of it than your students.
  • You give of yourself by raising the knowledge level of others.
  • You build relationships.
  • You open up opportunities for yourself and others.
  • You showcase your level of mastery to your peers and industry.
  • You can make money doing it.

All of those things are great, right?  You want to get better, be more known in your industry, foster good relationships, raise people up, and maybe even make money right?

So why don’t you?  Let’s tear down those excuses…

  • I’m not good enough/don’t know enough to teach.
    If you’ve just started, I agree with you.  However, if you’re a few weeks into your subject – then you know more than someone who isn’t a few weeks in.  You might not think that’s a big deal, but how many times have you started a project just to struggle and then give up quickly?  Don’t you wish you had a hand then, to speed you along?  Even extreme novices need average novices to help prop them up

    What’s really surprising about this statement, however, is that it comes a lot from seasoned veterans.

    Why?

    Because they look up, just as when they were at the bottom, and only see people who are better than them.  It’s incredibly paralyzing, especially when you’re pretty good at something but not the best, as you feel like you should be the best before you start teaching.  In your mind, you’re just not quite good enough.

    That’s a lie.  You know enough to teach the person a few levels down from you.

    In fact, what the veteran and the novice should remember – the veteran has likely lost the perspective to really help the novice in the nitty gritty details of novice work.  So both novices and veterans need to teach – as we need skill at all levels!

  • I make too many mistakes to teach.
    Your mistakes are actually probably one of the most valuable parts of your teaching.

    Have you ever looked at someone you’re learning from and gotten depressed because they seem so far ahead of you?  You feel like you’ll never make it to their level.  It’s demoralizing, and and easy way to give up.

    But if that teacher makes a mistake – they’re suddenly humanized.  They’re not perfect, and that’s ok!  Most simple mistakes don’t result in a massive loss of credibility.  Instead, they make you look human, and are quickly corrected.  These mistakes are actually an asset that allow you to build deeper relationships with your students.

  • I don’t really know what I’m doing, how could I teach?
    Well, I hope you do know what you’re doing.  If you’re being employed to do it, I’d say you’re full of shit and need to start teaching what you know.

    Most likely, what you mean is you often “fake” or “fumble through” your process.  It’s not an exact science.  You might “feel out” what you’re doing and where you’re going – you’ll know it’s right whenever you get to what’s right.  This is closely linked to imposter syndrome.

    What I’d argue is, you know what’s right.  You even know how to fumble through to get there.  But you have no practice in conveying how you get there.  Perhaps you’ve never even thought about that.

    So if I were you, I’d spend time writing your process.  You may ramble, but once you go back and re-read you’ll probably find it’s not as complicated as you thought.  Keep practicing, and you’ll be able to articulate it.

  • There are so many people who are better than me, I can’t teach yet.
    Read the first bullet point.  If you’re the absolute master of your craft and there’s nothing left to learn, you’ll probably just move on due to lack of interest.

    Outside of that, if you’ve reached “level 2” of learning (yes, that’s arbitrary) then you can teach those at “level 1”.  If you’ve reached “level 50”, you’re likely to be able to speak well with those at the previous 10 levels at least.

    You might not be at the very top, but I’d argue that you almost always have something to share.

  • You have to really have something mastered to teach it.
    I’d say that it’s fairly safe to agree with this – but at the task level, not at the discipline level.

    Do you know how to do some really awesome time-saving trick in a DAW or via code?  Do you use it all the time?  Share it!  That’s what I did with some excel formulas I use like crazy.

  • I’m just not quite ready to teach yet.
    Ok, so when will you be?  What are the concrete things you need to have learned to start teaching?

    If you can define that – and I’m 100% sure you can’t – then define a date to learn those things by, and start teaching.

    Oh, so you started and now your “I can’t teach until I learn X” list has grown”?  See what I mean?  You just have to start.

  • I don’t know how to teach.
    I’ve literally laughed at this one before.

    Have you ever taught an older person or child how to use technology?  Then you definitely know how to teach.

  • I’m not a good teacher, I really suck at it.
    What you’re actually saying here is “I’ve had almost no experience teaching”.  It’s highly unlikely, but you could also be saying “My process of teaching is horrendous”.  One may be informing the other too.

    In this case, all you’re looking for is opportunity to practice.  You can literally write every day until you’re used to teaching people by words.  You can also sit with others and walk them through things until you figure out the process that works for you.

    But you only suck, and keep sucking, if you don’t try.

 

Ok, I hope I’ve sufficiently called you out now.  If you haven’t started teaching, I very much encourage you to try!

The world needs your voice, even if someone else has said or is saying what you want to say.  Everyone plays their own music, everyone teaches their own way.

If you need more encouragement – find me here.

 


Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.