A perspective on teaching.
There were two things that ultimately drew me to teaching: 1) an interest in lifelong learning, and 2) the presence of a number of key mentors who helped shape my educational experience for the better.
I teach to learn. Learning, as expansive a term as it is, has always been what's energized me and provided me with inspiration and fulfillment. I remain curious, something I credit in part to a few of the many terrific instructors and mentors I had along the way. For me, learning isn't merely acquisition. It's also an act of sharing. At least when it's done properly.
When I think back to my own learning experience, all of the best teachers I was fortunate enough to learn from cultivated a genuine sense of active curiosity in me – often for subjects, ideas and activities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had exposure to.
Mr. Frawley laid the groundwork for intellectual exploration, academic rigour, and a love of music.
Mr. McBride emboldened me to see how far away I could stand from the basketball net and still make a shot.
Miss Snyder pushed me to be inquisitive about what I could accomplish with words, and encouraged frequent expeditions into the realm of ideas.
Mr. O’Toole ignited a love of humour, an appreciation for playfulness in work and in learning, enthusiasm for insight, and a thirst for creativity.
And although Jay Chiat wasn’t one of my teachers personally, he was the founder of the first ad agency I ever worked at. He used to say “Creative is not a department”. Meaning, great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. Philosophically, I think this idea best represents my own approach to teaching, and it’s a maxim I consistently come back to when I’m trying to inspire my students today. It’s also the “Why?” behind why I love to teach.
It's ludicrous to think that great teaching is anything less than essential. We need talented, amazing teachers more than ever. I'm simply a volunteer for the cause – someone who humbly has put up his hand to help create meaning for those I am lucky enough to get to inspire.
In his play Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw let the following zinger fly: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” That sticky little aphorism eventually morphed into "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." I love Shaw, and I'm going to assume that he intended it satirically, but suffice it to say that I could not disagree more. Anyone who has ever succeeded in one way or another has always had a skilled mentor or teacher. The only question is whether he or she recognizes it or not.
In a recent interview, Itzhak Perlman said "Teaching is really very, very important. I always tell my students that you should find an opportunity to teach. When you teach others, you teach yourself.”