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March 3rd, 2020
The teacher has two aims.
The first aim of the teacher is to become irrelevant as a teacher.
Sure it’s necessary to teach a student the basics, but this never takes all that long. And even with the basics, there’s no need for the teacher to be exhaustive. There’s no need because the first aim quickly blends into the second.
The teacher seeks not just to show the student some basics, but more importantly the teacher seeks to show the student how to explore by asking the right questions. These are not questions for the teacher to answer, but questions that will propel the student in productive directions on their own. Often a teacher does this by answering a question with another question.
The great teacher is honored by the student’s solitary experience of composing questions that are so tightly phrased that they frame the answer which they seek. This is how the teacher seeks to become irrelevant.
The teacher in this case is educating the student on what it means to learn, irrespective of the subject. What it means to learn is to be able to explore.
The teacher doesn’t draw the entire map of the territory and then draw a path through that territory designed for the student to follow step by step.
The teacher gives the student a compass, teaches them how to use it, and then pushes them out the door.
Ultimately, we teach ourselves what we learn.
Teachers are like curiosity. They can only point us in the productive directions. But they cannot take the steps for us.
It’s up to each of us to venture out and explore.
We honor our teachers by seeking to rely on them less and less
and ultimately by joining them in order to explore uncertainty
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