The Heart of a Teacher

Dave Ramsey often encourages people to look for an investment advisor with the heart of a teacher. I’m learning more about what that means.

Some people are in the position of training a new person, on the job, for example. But they don’t enjoy it. They hope the person will learn the new skills as quickly as possible, and go away and not ask for any more training. They want the new person to do their job, and do it well, so that the reluctant trainer won’t get in trouble with their supervisor.

A person with a teacher’s heart loves the learning process. They like the challenge of finding new ways of explaining the lesson. They demonstrate the skill once, then ask them to do it while they shadow them. They are willing to repeat the lesson until the person gets it.

A teacher has a patient heart, and enjoys the teaching process–and the learning process. Teachers, whether by vocation or avocation, are usually lifelong learners, and often enjoy reading and traveling for that reason.

A person can have a teacher’s heart no matter their profession. I believe both my parents were teachers, though they earned their bread in other ways.

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18 thoughts on “The Heart of a Teacher”

  1. One is always amazed at the abilities of a great explainer. They are able to reach the ears of the listener. Like the old Honda commercial, “They make it simple.”

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  2. Olive:
    Some people are in the position of training a new person, on the job, for example. But they don’t enjoy it. They hope the person will learn the new skills as quickly as possible, and go away and not ask for any more training. They want the new person to do their job, and do it well, so that the reluctant trainer won’t get in trouble with their supervisor.

    I liked this post because it reminded me of all the times I rcvd a new assistant/associate/clerical or secretary in my corporate job. I worked with them very closely for two reasons:

    1. Selfishness. I loved nothing more than the ability to train and delegate responsibilities and have them executed to my standards by other people. Less for me to do!

    2. Pride. My people were always promoted before their peers and I rcvd great satisfaction when a young employee told me once: “We know we’ll get promoted far more quickly because anyone who survives working for you has developed an impeccable resume.”

    My people were not only trained well but were propelled into important job obligations at an early age and they loved it!

    Message of the day is this: The good ones always rise to the occasion when you expect it of them.

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  3. I do not know who this Taylor Mali is (he may not even be really a teacher !), but his small speech is among the best I’ve seen/read about teaching :

    Now, I’m slighty an evil contrarian, thus I could argue that for anyone with a decent I.Q. and who knows how to read and write, teachers are next to useless — even the good ones, possibly even the best ones. Libraries are enough. I’ve been in, shall we say, *decent* schools and university (Louis-le-Grand, Sorbonne Paris IV — though this won’t speak to you, I guess), yet I’ve probably met four — yes, only *four* — great teachers who deserved the utmost respect for all what they knew and for the way they were able to inspire their selected students towards excellence. The mass of others, whatever the level of teaching they were at, ranked from bad (the majority) to adequate — at least to me (but I must admit I was, in these older times, not exactly the average person : I found everyone too slow, way too slow, and things began to be interesting for the doctorate — because I was *lucky* enough to meet one of the most powerful minds in France). Not even a Gauss curve. I would have fired 3 out of 4 among them. And I haven’t seen the worst, the ordinary teachers one only reads about in books describing the terrifying reality of the whole leftist educational system which is a war machine against excellence.

    Pedagogy is the art of repetition, practiced with a regular hammer repeatedly hitting the same nail, not the Nietzschean geological hammer querying the nature of reality. Almost all teachers (I did not write : *all* teachers, for I perfectly know there *are* exceptions, which are just that : *exceptions*) can merely teach to others the few elementary things they know second or third hand, whatever their domain, while they should try and acquire deeper knowledge for themselves. Only the brightest minds should be qualified to teach, the same way only the brightest musicians should be allowed to play (for the others, let this be a hobby, and a *private* one).

    But I won’t argue, however strong the temptation is. 😉 Though I’m a rather good philosophist able to speak for and against anything, I find such debates more and more tiring and without great interest for anybody. 😉 I can hardly understand why teachers are needed, yet I’ll just say, for one of my last comments, that *Goodbye, Mr Chips* is among my favorite movies. Things are never as simple as one would like them to be, eh. 😉

    P.S. edit/fix : My father was an engineer, and excellent a teacher though he did not intend to. When he brought home an Apple ][+, I was eager to use it and to master it. I asked him to teach me programming (though I did know a few things thanks to TI-58C programmable calculator). He said nothing but installed me in front of the keyboard and amber CRT, showed me the Apple DOS manual and the Applesoft BASIC manual, then left me alone without a word. A few hours later in the night, I had my first astronomical ephemeris running (using Meeus’ *Astronomical Formulae for Calculators*). A few weeks later, I had written my own operating system in 6502 assembly language. At first, I found my father very clever : teachers are useless. A good reference and a brain are enough. Years after, he would admit he just did not want to bother. The result was there anyway. No teacher can create a curious and inquisitive mind. Teaching is overrated.

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  4. Blumroch:
    I do not know who this Taylor Mali is (he may not even be really a teacher !), but his small speech is among the best I’ve seen/read about teaching :

    Now, I’m slighty an evil contrarian, thus I could argue that for anyone with a decent I.Q. and who knows how to read and write, teachers are next to useless — even the good ones, possibly even the best ones. Libraries are enough. I’ve been in, shall we say, *decent* schools and university (Louis-le-Grand, Sorbonne Paris IV — though this won’t speak to you, I guess), yet I’ve probably met four — yes, only *four* — great teachers who deserved the utmost respect for all what they knew and for the way they were able to inspire their selected students towards excellence. The mass of others, whatever the level of teaching they were at, ranked from bad (the majority) to adequate — at least to me (but I must admit I was, in these older times, not exactly the average person : I found everyone too slow, way too slow, and things began to be interesting for the doctorate — because I was *lucky* enough to meet one of the most powerful minds in France). Not even a Gauss curve. I would have fired 3 out of 4. And I haven’t seen the worst, the ordinary one only reads about in books describing the reality of the whole educational system.

    Pedagogy is the art of repetition, practiced with a regular hammer repeatedly hitting the same nail, not the Nietzschean geological hammer querying the nature of reality. Almost all teachers (I did not write : *all* teachers, for I perfectly know there *are* exceptions, which are just that : *exceptions*) can merely teach to others the few elementary things they know second or third hand, whatever their domain, while they should try and acquire deeper knowledge for themselves. Only the brightest minds should be qualified to teach, the same way only the brightest musicians should be allowed to play (for the others, let this be a hobby).

    But I won’t argue, however strong the temptation is. 😉 Though I’m a rather good philosophist able to speak for and against anything, I find such debates more and more tiring and without great interest for anybody. 😉 I can hardly understand why teachers are needed, yet I’ll just say, for one of my last comments, that *Goodbye, Mr Chips* is among my favorite movies. Things are never as simple as one would like them to be, eh. 😉

    Blumroch, you can’t expect people to be you. You are unique. Very few people could learn as much as you have in your own. Not many people could read a book a day let alone two. You love knowledge and it shows. You share some interesting insights. Are you sure you are French?;-)

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  5. 10 Cents:

    Blumroch, you can’t expect people to be you. You are unique. Very few people could learn as much as you have in your own. Not many people could read a book a day let alone two. You love knowledge and it shows. You share some interesting insights. Are you sure you are French?;-)

    I’m not unique. Someone like Mr Walker is. Someone like Pierre Boutang was. I’m just an excellent evil reader and a decent writer (no : a very good one in French). Just a little in the right good side of the I.Q. curve, but not enough close to its extremity. Frankly, I don’t really care about knowledge : it’s just a way to past time for a nihilist. I take the right(ist) side because I value excellence, competence and responsability. Yes, alas, I’m really French. “I would prefer not to”, considering what this country has become now. Would rather be the wonderful creature imagined by Clifford Simak here :

    http://www.loyalbooks.com/download/text/World-That-Couldnt-Be.txt

    P.S. : May Olive pardon me for the *evil* digression about teaching. 😉 I sometimes have fun with elementary baits such as deserving and not deserving billionaires, stupid mottos from movies, and the like with a 80% to 100% probability of silly guaranteed reaction, but I must admit the eloge of teachers works the same on me, at times. 😉 I hope the video will do for an excuse. 😉

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  6. Blumroch:

    10 Cents:

    Blumroch, you can’t expect people to be you. You are unique. Very few people could learn as much as you have in your own. Not many people could read a book a day let alone two. You love knowledge and it shows. You share some interesting insights. Are you sure you are French?;-)

    I’m not unique. Someone like Mr Walker is. Someone like Pierre Boutang was. I’m just an excellent reader and a decent writer. Just a little in the right good side of the I.Q. curve. Frankly, I don’t really care about knowledge : it’s just a way to past time for a nihilist. Yes, alas, I’m French. “I would prefer not to”, considering what this country has become now. Would rather be the wonderful creature imagined by Clifford Simak here :

    http://www.loyalbooks.com/download/text/World-That-Couldnt-Be.txt

    Nihilist are such positive people. They know there is no light at the end of the tunnel but carry on. Hey, they help out knowing there is no reward. For me, I am nice to nihilists just to be unkind. I would rather they cursed my light than enjoy their darkness.

    You wrote that you are not unique. Can you name five people like you? I suppose that is still unique. How about 100? 😉

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  7. 10 Cents:

    Nihilist are such positive people. They know there is no light at the end of the tunnel but carry on. Hey, they help out knowing there is no reward. For me, I am nice to nihilists just to be unkind. I would rather they cursed my light than enjoy their darkness.

    You wrote that you are not unique. Can you name five people like you? I suppose that is still unique. How about 100? 😉

    Sorry for the “P.S. edit/fix” : when I reread my comments, I cannot resist rewriting a few things, for I then see all the forgotten sentences and a few of quirks I write because writing in English is unnaturel to me. 😉 (When I write in French, the first draft is almost always definive).

    There are much more than five people more clever, more knowledgeable than I. Much more than 100. Alas ! It’s a good thing I don’t feel any envy for anything or anyone — I don’t waste my time comparing, this is the root of real evil. One fights against oneself, as in a story told by martial arts masters (the one I think of is the one about the warrior who does not know how to win, but who does know how not to lose). 😉

    Damn, we’re digressing very far from teachers and teaching. I don’t think my fascinating personality has any interest (not even to me, eh eh), so we’ll stop about that point. Time’s running. 😉

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  8. Blumroch:

    10 Cents:

    Nihilist are such positive people. They know there is no light at the end of the tunnel but carry on. Hey, they help out knowing there is no reward. For me, I am nice to nihilists just to be unkind. I would rather they cursed my light than enjoy their darkness.

    You wrote that you are not unique. Can you name five people like you? I suppose that is still unique. How about 100? 😉

    Sorry for the “P.S. edit/fix” : when I reread my comments, I cannot resist rewriting a few things, for I then see all the forgotten sentences and a few of quirks I write because writing in English is unnaturel to me. 😉 (When I write in French, the first draft is almost always definive).

    There are much more than five people more clever, more knowledgeable than I. Much more than 100. Alas ! It’s a good thing I don’t feel any envy for anything or anyone — I don’t waste my time comparing, this is the root of real evil. One fights against oneself, as in a story of martial arts (the warrior who does not know how not to win, but who does know how not to lose). 😉

    I asked, “Who is like you?” I know there are many better than you and smarter. Unique just means basically one of a kind. I sure haven’t met a person like you. How many Frenchmen can write English; understand my jokes; and like John Walker?

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  9. 10 Cents:

    I asked, “Who is like you?” I know there are many better than you and smarter. Unique just means basically one of a kind. I sure haven’t met a person like you. How many Frenchmen can write English; understand my jokes; and like John Walker?

    “many better than you and smarter” : now, that was very mean and worse : unecessary. I do know it, I admit it (though not gladly : it’s just a fact), so reminding it to me this way is mean. Such a remark could awaken in me a feeling of… victimization, leading me to chose the Path of the Social Justice Warrior, while I was glad to be a ronin (would have liked to be one of the 47 but joining them for the beauty of the fight, as in John Buchan’s *The Lemnian*). 😉

    Probably the same number as American people who do too. 😉 Have you made an estimation for ratburgerians ? (using a Fermi estimate ?).

    P.S. (“esprit de l’escalier”) : Everyone is “unique”. Or believes so. This has nothing to do with quality or usefulness. I remember an amusing demotivator poster about that point.

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  10. May I add Olive that teachers are not always those who teach in a classroom. The best teachers I know are in the workplace; they call themselves mentors.

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  11. Blumroch:

    10 Cents:

    I asked, “Who is like you?” I know there are many better than you and smarter. Unique just means basically one of a kind. I sure haven’t met a person like you. How many Frenchmen can write English; understand my jokes; and like John Walker?

    “many better than you and smarter” : now, that was very mean and worse : unecessary. I do know it, I admit it (though not gladly : it’s just a fact), so reminding it to me this way is mean. Such a remark could awaken in me a feeling of… victimization, leading me to chose the Path of the Social Justice Warrior, while I was glad to be a ronin (would have liked to be one of the 47 but joining them for the beauty of the fight, as in John Buchan’s *The Lemnian*). 😉

    Probably the same number as American people who do too. 😉 Have you made an estimation for ratburgerians ? (using Fermi estimate).

    P.S. (“esprit de l’escalier”) : Everyone is “unique”. Or believes so. This has nothing to do with quality or usefulness. I remember an amusing demotivator poster about that point.

    I am an evil Sock Puppet. Mean is what I do. Since you have gone the way of SJW, are you going to join Twitter or Google? How about a bilingual cable show? Don’t hide your darkness under a bushel. 😉

    In keeping with this post, have you ever thought of teaching?

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  12. Great Post and follow ups!

    I have been in electronics all my working life, (or at least 95% of it), after what seems like a lifetime, (30+ years), I retired for a few short years. Then for other reasons I returned to work, first as a security guard and a few months later a slot machine technician. I was so-called trained for two weeks, my trainer let me do nothing else but clean bill validators, the device that sucks in your cash. It was no training at all. Then I worked for a year on the third shift where they threw me to the wolves, at least that’s what the night owl casino guests seem to be. I learned the machines by trial and error sprinkled with some logical assumptions. After about a year I had the chance to bid on a day time shift. I polished my approach and the logic of machine operation became self evident.  The guests started to recognize me, or the ability that I could tame the malfunctioning beasts with nearly my bare hands and an occasional part. I believe that may have played a part in why I was assigned, over several months, no less than five individuals to train. I did the show and tell, the explanations and of course I also shadowed them after I explained the problem and said now you fix it. After that I let them diagnose the problem, test the machine and repair it and test it again with them explaining what they were doing. They all worked as slot technicians, two took promotions and are not technicians anymore. One left for a job with better pay and two remain as slot technicians. I still train them, or in reality, when I discover a better way to do something I do a show and tell with my co-workers and generally they adopt the method.

    I could go into the countless times I worked with our military personnel at various and numerous military installations and showed the tricks and shortcuts based on looking at the symptoms and applying logic or the grey matter between their ears. Not to forget as a journeyman technician I also mentored lower grade people in achieving their tasks.

    Knowledge is power. Empower someone else to carry on where you left off. The world will be a better place because of your actions.

    I guess I have one of those hearts, a heart of a teacher.

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  13. Gerry D:
    I guess I have one of those hearts, a heart of a teacher.

    I do too and I know its because others ahead of me chose to pay it forward.

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  14. 10 Cents:

     

    I am an evil Sock Puppet. Mean is what I do. Since you have gone the way of SJW, are you going to join Twitter or Google? How about a bilingual cable show? Don’t hide your darkness under a bushel. 😉

    In keeping with this post, have you ever thought of teaching?

    You should not believe everything I write when in “false modesty mode”. 😉

    “Evil” should not be an excuse for just “mean” : Lucifer does not bother with little nastiness. *De minimis non curat praetor*. 😉

    As a Sock Puppet-created new SJW (looks like a vampire thing !), I guess I would have first to quit the Party with dishonorable discharge (think it was thus called in JAG excellent propaganda series). Then I could become a moronist — sorry : a macronist. Argh, a fate worse than death.

    Never. I was asked to, many times, even after my Doctorat — my “directeur de thèse” (“doctorate thesis director” ?) would have liked me to follow his steps, which was a *great* but undeserved honor –, but I  always replied niet. I don’t like to talk to an audience. I don’t like speech. I don’t care about others. As talking to a limited and selected small circle, possibly, but I’ve never been interested either (or then it’s a circle of friends). The same for writer/essayist/mentor/guru and such things. I do know how to locate and select bright minds, but I do not know how to *forge* bright minds (*no one* does). And bright minds do not need anybody. I don’t want to think for others, even when they’re begging for that just because I’ve read a lot and just because I *sometimes* have not entirely uninteresting things to say (well, for certain people at least — not here for sure, and I’m about to draw the required unescapable conclusion). The only teaching I can understand is the *Tolle, lege* principle — and you have to be careful offering the good book to the good target. Though with or without the giver, anyone with a brain will meet, one way or another, the books and ideas he was meant to (if not, one can always write them, as the best of French situationists proved it).

    This should lead to a minidebate about direct teaching, direct example and indirect influence — from the least to the most powerful effect on mind — but that’s another story, and an uninteresting one. As is uninresting too the more or less hidden hideous lust for *power* that most teachers feel *even* when they say the contrary (this is akin to a guru and his disciples — I’m sure clever Anton Szandor LaVey and stupid Lafayette Ronald Hubbard did feel this same way). As Georges Gusdorf wrote it in *Mythe et métaphysique* (*Of myth and metaphysics*), “Je laisse ce thème à plus génial que moi” (“I’ll leave the development to anyone more of a genius than I am”). 😉

    Digression : I’ve seen teachers of all sorts being proud or ashamed by the results (successes or failures) of their victims, while their teaching had not great part in this (no teacher can *forge* natural intelligence, he can at best help reveal it).  One wonders why (leftist) teachers *hate* the idea of natural I.Q. and inborn abilities. If they were able to understand that the success or failure of their victims does not depend upon the teacher’s quality (or lack of) but just upon inborn I.Q. and inborn character, they would not feel guilty about their teaching’s results — even though they ordinarily reject the guilt onto society because it’s easier for them. What is amusing is that leftists who hate personal responsabilities reject a fact which would exonerate them from any responsability. Consistency is not their strong point.

    In a novel by Jacques Chardonne, the hero has a very nice way to decline such flattering proposals : “Assurément, je sais écrire, mais je ne voudrais pas avoir pour lecteurs des gens dont je ne voudrais pas pour amis.”, i.e. approximately “I do know how to write, indeed, but I would not like to be read by people I would not want to be my friends.”.

    P.S. : Amusing when someone expects an answer without any chance for it, gets none, then erases as if no answer had ever been expected. There’s a clever remark by Nietzsche about that, but I won’t quote it : that would be cruel and worse — useless.

    Time to Lib.Terminate(0); now — I’m done providing my (false) pearls. 😉

    P.P.S. : slight edit/fixes (but no deletion) as not to begin Yet Another Useless Comment.

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  15. @Blumroch “…the whole leftist educational system which is a war machine against excellence.”

    Nice!

    I do pardon your negative take on teachers. I appreciate your comments, and you will not find a more passionate critic of public schools than myself.

    One counterpoint I would offer–as I play Devil’s Avocado–is that my Spanish teacher in high school praised me for my “circumlocution” in an exercise we did in class. I have never forgotten it. It encouraged me to pursue second language acquisition all the way to fluency.

    So perhaps a valid role of the teacher is–encourager?

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  16. EThompson:

    I liked this post because it reminded me of all the times I rcvd a new assistant/associate/clerical or secretary in my corporate job. I worked with them very closely for two reasons:

    Thanks, E, for understanding the spirit of my post. Training is slightly different from teaching, though they are related and often overlap. “I’m going to show you how to handle these phone lines” is different from “I’m going to relate facts to you about this concept that neither of us cares about.”

    The former has urgency, importance, and a relevant outcome. The latter has none of those.

     

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  17. Gerry D:
    Great Post and follow ups!

    I guess I have one of those hearts, a heart of a teacher.

    Thanks for the feedback and comments, Gerry D. It seems you do have the heart of a teacher. It’s a wonderful thing to watch someone who wants to get better at something, get better at that thing. Thanks for posting.

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  18. Olive:
    Training is slightly different from teaching, though they are related and often overlap.

    With the exception of my secretary and clerical (who my assts dealt with primarily), my job did involve teaching. As for my associates and assistants, my job was to teach them how to use mathematical and analytical skills to grow a business, how to read P&L statements and most importantly, how to make money for the company.

    I ran an Economics III class in my office and my associates all went on to become VPs and SVPs long after I left. That wasn’t training. 🙂

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