2008-01-15 11:34 PM

Content in Teaching

Like a kite with no wind a teacher with no content is a big flop. Without content, the substance of what is being taught, “teaching” can come off as preaching or just acting like a know-it-all.

There are many poor substitute teachers reciting lines from an instructor’s manual or just being a warm body to “babysit” a class full of would-be-learners. Unfortunately there are times it seems the warm bodies outnumber the professionals who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject.

But where did those knowledgeable teachers get their knowledge? And how can they be enthusiastic about a subject for years or decades?

The short answer: hard work and passion.

How about a less enigmatic answer. Most professional teachers, just like the multitude of “amateur” teachers, learned about their subject by applying the KAB principles. Knowledge was gained by reading about the topic, observing others first hand, direct experience, and commentary by others. Awareness developed through all of these activities and was reinforced over time. Behaviors change based on the knowledge and awareness.

Of course all three KAB aspects are in play when you just do it. It is hard not to increase your awareness while applying your knowledge performing specific behaviors. Not to mention the increased value of knowledge gained by being in the trenches and experiencing and behaving in the ways you practiced.

And as I turn the focus on you I can hear the chorus: “But I can’t teach. I don’t know anything people want to learn about!”

We often get caught up in the idea that teachers know more than other people. And to a certain extent that is true — but only if we let those “other people” be their students and we specify that the area of knowledge is limited to the subject being taught. Everyone has something they are passionate and knowledgeable about.

Which brings us to the other key that keeps professional teachers on top of their game for years. They love the game! They have passion for their topic and so all the “hard work” everyone else sees is counted only joy by the teacher.

Occasionally that passion is born out of a need or a pain. Cancer patients and their families often get a crash course in medical jargon and technology. Those who have gone through the process naturally know more about what is involved than those who have never experienced the disease. The “pain” can also be as mundane as how to catch a mole that has made its winter home in your laundry room (don’t ask). At the very least I know a lot more than most about what moles do not eat and what does not work to trap them. Kind of like the Benjamin Franklin approach to light bulbs.

Now, if you did the needs inventory I suggested recently you also created an inventory of your resources. Now is a perfect time to re-visit that list and continue to add with this thought in mind: everyone knows something, has experienced something, and is passionate about something.

What do you know something about?
What have you experienced? Felt passionate about? What has pained you?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “Content in Teaching”

  1. Life, Love, & Learning - Communication in Teaching Says:

    […] Content in Teaching 2008-01-16 11:16 […]

  2. Life, Love, & Learning - Content Revisited Says:

    […] wait, information marketing is generally done by teaching content! And the bonus is that almost anyone can communicate some content to clients then make the commerce […]

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