To all my fellow educators: Happy Teachers Day!
OK, maybe I am not a REAL teacher, even though I love to impart my knowledge and skills to others.
As a digital marketing trainer and former associate lecturer in a polytechnic, I do a fair amount of facilitating (the more andragogically correct word).
In the process of teaching, however, I find that the classroom provides only one dimension in the learning experience.
Teachers don’t only exist in the classroom.
On the contrary, many of the best teachers in my life were people that I met outside a formal teaching environment.
They may be a boss.
Or a colleague.
Or a pastor.
Or a child.
Or a spouse.
Or a lover.
Or a student.
Or a parent.
Or a Grab Driver.
Or an elderly relative. The kind whom you only visit during Chinese New Year!
Or a friend.
Or a supplier.
Or a customer.
Or a business partner.
But you know what? Your teachers may not necessarily be your friends or those who have good intentions for you.
Your competitors can be extremely powerful teachers. You can learn so much from the leaders and movers and shakers in your trade.
You can also learn so much from books, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and YouTube videos.
There is a wealth of free educational resources that you can find online. All accessible to you using your finger tips.
You can also learn from your failures.
Yes, nobody likes to fail. We hate to screw up. Defeat tastes bitter.
But the truth of the matter is that failures teach us far better than successes.
Don’t believe me?
Ask Jack Ma, who got rejected from 30 jobs in his home city in Hangzhou. Even KFC rejected him—they hired 23 applicants; he was the 24th.
Talking about KFC, its founder Colonel Harland Sanders failed was rejected by 1,009 restaurants before one accepted his offer. At that time, he was already 65 years of age, had only US$105 in a social security check to his name, as well as his famous chicken recipe.
And what about Thomas Edison?
The famed founder of General Electric had to swallow 1,000 failed attempts before he finally succeeded in inventing the light bulb.
Mistakes maketh the man. To err is human; to forgive (yourself) divine.
Speaking of divinity, God is certainly a teacher. For us Christians, Jesus is probably our most important Teacher.
Having said all this, teachers—the sort that impart knowledge in a classroom—are still important.
Beyond transmitting knowledge and information to us through traditional and electronic means, a good teacher is also a mentor and motivator.
She helps to turn data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom.
She helps to shine light and illuminate the path ahead, in a world that may be full of darkness.
She helps to discipline and direct our learning journey, nudging us in the right direction like a compass in the choppy seas of life.
But having good teachers alone aren’t enough.
You need to have a teachable spirit.
(Or what renowned researcher Carol Dweck would call a growth mindset.)
As we celebrate Teacher’s Day tomorrow, let us all consider how we can truly appreciate all the people who taught us many different lessons in life.
We should also inculcate in ourselves a teachable spirit.
Being teachable means having the humility to learn—regardless of your age, years of experience, designation, wealth, social status, or educational qualifications.
It means acknowledging that you can’t know everything. That you can’t do everything. That there will always be others who are better than you, and whom you can learn from.
It means allowing others to guide you and show you how, even when they may be junior to you in rank, age, or other indicators in the pecking order.
Who are the most important teachers in your life? What have they taught you—about life, work, and play?
PS—As a marketer, I believe that I must also be a teacher. Read why here.
PPS—I forgot to add that you can also be taught by a magician, like David Copperfield.