Many years ago I remember walking out of a teaching session and the person next to me said, “That person is the greatest teacher I have ever heard, I didn’t understand a word they said!”
Needless to say, I was confused and bemused by this comment. How could someone be a great teacher when you don’t understand them? As the years have rolled by I have come to the realisation that there are two types of teachers. The self-absorbed and self-interested academics and the truly great teachers who engage their students and transform lives. The difference between the two has little to do with their title, (Dr.) statute, reputation, position or the subject they teach but rather in their approach, do they seek to enable or confound their students.
That is the difference between a great teacher and an insecure academic, one enables the other confounds.
There are four simple indicators of great teaching.
– A great teacher will shift their communication to a level where the audience understands, grows and develops. Jesus, the greatest teacher of all, could communicate with highly educated Romans and rabbis as well as uneducated farmers, servants and slaves.
An insecure academic will try to impress or intimidate the audience by displaying their knowledge and revealing your ignorance.
– A great teacher will start from a common point of reference. Jesus spoke about planting seeds with the farmer, about fishing with the fisherman and about finances with the tax collectors.
An insecure academic will start from a place of obscurity and move into the unknown.
– A great teacher will inspire you and create a hunger within you to find out more. They make the incomprehensible accessible and the complex simple.
An insecure academic will leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused and deflated. They take the simple and make it complex and inaccessible.
– A great teacher will take an important principle and intertwine it into your life, or in other words, they enable you.
An insecure academic imparts fear, confusion and a sense of hopelessness. You will never fully understand them so you don’t even try, they disable you.
So how do you know when you have heard a great teacher?
- You feel lifted, inspired and encouraged.
- You feel like you have common ground.
- You are hungry for more.
- You have received wisdom, not just knowledge.
Let’s surround ourselves with great teachers, who empower our lives and elevate our spirits.