2008-04-22 1:47 PM

Don’t “Try” to Teach

Here is what happened with last post’s teaching exercise.

My colleague made some notes and cheerfully said “I’ll try this tonight.” Since he has been open to my language pattern lessons in the past I chastised him with “Do or do not. There is no try.” After acknowledging the source (Yoda) we began debating whether “try” is a useful word or not. He argued his use was in the sense of “let’s try that restaurant tonight.” I pointed out that you either eat at the restaurant or you don’t, there isn’t really the half way option implied by “try”.

My biggest issue with “try” is the presupposition of failure. If you expect someone to show up at a given time you say “Please be there at 8:00.” If you expect them not to show up on time you say “Please try to be there at 8:00.” Expecting success: “Please bring me that box.” Expecting failure: “Please try bringing me that box.” The difference is subtle, yet profound.

After “running the experiment” (no “try” involved!) I heard back. My colleague had asked his son to “do something fun and figure out 90×3 but [you] should imagine that [you are] asking [Dad] to tell [you] the answer.” 270 and other correct answers flowed easily. Later that evening he found out that his son had actually followed the original exercise and was in fact asking Albert Einstein “because he’s smarter than you Dad.”

What do you need to stop “trying” to do and just get done today?
Who might you stop saddling with expectations of “trying”?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan No Comments »

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