“Those who can’t do, teach – those who can’t teach, teach gym.”
This was a saying I grew up with. I suppose it was supposed to be a motivator for me to learn, maybe? Maybe it was a dig against educators? At this point I don’t recall the exact motivation only the quote itself. I’d like to collect my thoughts on education, why I value teaching, and the importance of mentorship. I have probably been shaped by those words and I still do find them relative today. I think they deserve more context because I don’t believe the phrase hold true in all context.
For starters, I don’t believe most educators choose that career because they couldn’t do anything else. I think most wanted to be an educator and worked to fulfill that dream. That said, economics is real and ‘educating’ I don’t believe is any sort of specialized skill. I would have to assume that most people become educators for a love or passion for teaching and they find fulfillment and reward through that. Someone who lacked any specialized skill and fell back on teaching as ‘plan B’ may not find the same fulfillment through educating. They may be financially motivated, and I think this is one of the tell-tale signs of poor-quality educators and gives merit to the original statement.
I believe this also applies to folks who get trapped by academia. Often seen at the university level, people who obtain high levels of education and immediately fall over to teaching. Often times they may move on to things like independent research to further their expertise on a specialized topic in their field – but it’s a cautionary tale. I think in areas of theory, science, research, this path is valid. However, in fields that impact areas outside academia it is hard for me to understand how anyone who has no experience outside academia can teach anything practical to the real world. Especially in fields that move at a more robust pace than academia.
A third example I can highlight are the folks who spend a short period of time in industry then move into education full time. This is a much greyer of a scenario for me. It is completely acceptable that someone discovers their desire to educate and switches careers to follow their passion. They bring with them real world experience and their education. However, there is still the possibility they are ‘falling back’ to teach due to an incompetency or lack of skill.
So far, I have laid out some examples of why others might teach. In many cases it is not for a lack of ability. As is the case for me. I have taken the middle ground where I can be both working and education. Teaching has been something I have always wanted to do – because I do genuinely find fulfillment in helping others be successful. I do it in some ways selfishly because it makes me feel good. I also understand that in most situations it doesn’t pay nearly as much as other things I do. Therefore, I choose to work as well. Additionally, things move way more quickly in tech than education does. It is important to me to stay informed and relative and continue learning.
Teaching is humbling. I believe it makes you stronger, wiser in your craft because it helps you elevate others around you. It is one thing to be a Rockstar yourself, but a whole different thing entirely if you can help elevate everyone around you to that level. It takes practice. It takes understanding beyond simply doing, but at a level that you can connect and explain to others. Understanding at a deeper level than most. I take pride in that.
Teaching keeps you revisiting the fundamentals and can help you stay current with trends. The real basics don’t seem to change much, buy you might see that some things have changed since you learned them. Teaching helps keep you informed – and that historical knowledge you have might be valuable context to newcomers seeing something for the first time. In a way, you create this cycle of knowledge that keeps you moving forward, while always coming back around to the basics, refining your own understanding and comprehension. Especially through the questions you will be asked. Folks will constantly challenge your knowledge and ability to break down concepts which is a great way to learn and grow yourself.
Finally, I teach to grow my network. This is certainly a bet on the futures of my students. The idea is that through teaching, you provide individuals with new skills they can go out and do things within the world. You helped enable that. Most people will remember those who helped them fulfill their goals or dreams. I want to be remembered. I want to enable folks to go create awesome stuff.
I may not look like your typical educator and for some that may seem out of character for me. I have been fortunate to teach dozens of kids and adults over the last few years in a variety of capacities. I have enjoyed each and every opportunity. I highly recommend taking advantage of opportunities to teach or mentor. Mentoring can be great for folks who want a bit less formality and more flexibility. Either way, I promise you will see growth in yourself as well. It is an excellent way to challenge yourself and help someone else at the same time.
Leave a comment or hit me up if you would like some advice on how you can get started. If you are searching for a mentor in software engineering, hit me up and let’s chat!
#Entrepreneur, #Developer, #Businessman. Pouring everything I have into everything that I do. Meeting #opportunity at the door.