It is tough to be a great teacher. We all have egos and teachers generally have stronger egos than other people. Regardless if a teacher cannot humble oneself and be a student the teacher no longer has value. Some teachers like the authority and power that comes with having a following.
Being a teacher myself I know how intoxicating it can be to be in front of a room of students and having their full attention. In addition, my students pay a good amount of hard earned cash to work with me. I do not take the responsibility lightly and work my @ss off to put on great workshops.
In fact if I am not drained the day after a workshop then I know I held back and did not put my best effort forward. If I do not get testimonials from my workshop participants then I did not put in my best effort.
Great Teachers: Critical Thinking For Students
Regardless, being a good teacher is not about acquiring praise or encouraging others to follow what you say blindly. In fact the greatest gift that a teacher can provide is the lesson of learning and critical thinking. A real teacher encourages students to seek out the truth on their own. A real teacher does not allow students to become worshippers and idolaters.
Life is always a learning process no matter what the field of study is and when you stop learning, you stop growing. A teacher has a responsibility to encourage growth and send the students forward when he or she no longer has anything to teach.
Great teachers take pleasure in their students surpassing them. Trying to hold one's students back is similar to a parent trying to impede the growth of their children. Such behavior is reprehensible!
Dune By Frank Herbert:
One of my favorite books is Dune by Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert was a brilliant man that had an incredible imagination. His characters came alive in his book and his stories are clearly made for adults. No simple good and evil battles with a condescending simplistic message. Herbert understood how complicated it was to be a human being and do the right thing. How being a leader is difficult as even the best intentions can go horribly wrong.
In the first Dune book, the main character Paul goes from being a naive young man to the strong and powerful leader of a repressed society. He leads a successful revolution against a corrupt emperor. Dune ends with a happy ending in which Paul takes the place of the emperor.
His journey from boy to man was filled with trials and tribulations just as every person's journey to a self-actualized being is. In the third Dune book, Paul loses control of his empire.
His followers kill in his name and he cannot do anything to stop it. He has become a figurehead and a religion is created around him. He as an individual only has the illusion of power and what is done in his name is too much for him to take. The final straw is the death of his wife as she gives birth to his children. Unable to handle the depression he walks off into the desert to die.
Paul had the best of intentions. He was a good man and lead an oppressed people to freedom. Unfortunately, the oppressed people become the new oppressors and he could not do anything to stop it. His followers worshipped him as a god and at the same time no longer recognized the flawed humanity in him. They put their blinders on and there is nothing more dangerous than a desperate society of blind followers. Any history student can confirm that.
With being a teacher comes immense responsibility. You have to make it clear to you're students that you do not have all of the answers. You have flaws as well and the great thing is that it is not a big deal. We live in such an artificial world that many people welcome depth and real communication. We are so hungry for something real that our actions as a society have become desperate.
The fact that "Reality TV" is so popular says it all. Many of us are so repressed that the inevitable boiling point is only around the corner and when it finally breaks through the flood gates all hell breaks loose. When we repress our emotions and feelings we always end up depressed. Eventually depression which is internal anger often leads to outward anger and the consequences can be disastrous.
Great Teachers: Must Be Honest To Be Effective
In order to be more effective teachers we have to show honest vulnerability and honest flaws. The illusion of perfection is just that an illusion. Celebrities are not better then you and no they do not have all the answers. People with immense wealth are not better than you and nope they do not have the answers either.
With the solving of any problem comes new problems. When you make a lot of money you solve the problem of not having money. Now you have to worry about losing you're wealth and people being friends with you only for you're money. When you lose fat and build muscle, you solve the problem of being overweight and unhealthy. Have no doubt that other problems are just around the corner.
Life is a constant battle of solving problems and facing new ones. Each time we solve a problem we grow immensely. When we stop having problems we are only kidding ourselves. Ignoring a problem or pretending that it does not exist will not make it go away.
While this is unacceptable for anyone that is interested in personal growth and living a full life, it is completely reprehensible for a teacher to pretend that problems do not exist. If you run a company and your top six people leave it is highly unlikely that the six people who left are the problem. It is however highly likely that the organization that they left is the problem. Try to avoid that reality all you want. Just do not believe for a second that it is not likely the truth.
Great Teachers: Admit Mistakes
The final thing that a teacher must do is admit mistakes. Just as a good teacher is aware that students make mistakes. A good teacher must be aware that he or she not only makes mistakes but will always make mistakes. Does this mean that a teacher that makes mistakes is not a good teacher? Of course not.
In baseball if you hit the ball three times out of every ten tries you're a superstar! This means that players who miss the ball the majority of the time are the best around. Their flaws are open to all of their fans yet the fans still love them.
If professional baseball players can be superstars with their obvious flaws, a teacher in any field can be a superstar as well with the admittance of mistakes. Bottom line is your students see your mistakes anyway so take responsibility and ownership of you're actions.
Sending the message to your students that you are infallible and perfect is a disservice to say the least. Sending the message that you're too good to get your hands dirty only sends the message that you're not a good teacher. As we have all heard many times a great teacher leads by example. The saying "Do as I say not as I do" is perfect for teachers that do not deserve to be teachers.
Whenever a teacher is too good to be true, go with you're instincts. We all know when someone is genuine and when someone is disingenuous. Whether we choose to go with our instincts is another story. Perception may be reality, however, at the end of the day reality is reality and the truth can only be held back for so long.
Be a great teacher and a great person by laying it on the table. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable and imperfect. Hell, do not be afraid to be afraid. Life is scary and avoiding that truth does not make it any less scary. Leave distraction methods to magicians.
Work some real magic in you're life by being an authentic person and surrounding yourself with other authentic people. Life is too short to live a lie. Live the truth!
Live Life Aggressively!