Gunny and I were having a conversation recently about the keys to good teaching, and that just because someone really knows a subject, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are great at teaching that subject!
He reminded me that he had a math teacher in high school who was very good at all the higher maths, but he was so good at them that it was hard for him to think and talk in simple enough terms to teach his students.
So, Gunny was saying that he thinks one of the most important keys to being a good teacher is being able to bring a student along from wherever he is in the learning curve of the subject.
This discussion reminded me of the time I decided it was time for me to learn my parents’ favorite game, bridge. They had tried to teach me, but I just didn’t get it. So, years later when I decided to give it another try, I went out and bought a book that was going to teach me how to play bridge. Unfortunately the flaw with the book was that it started at a point that was already too advanced for me!
And that was when I came up with a phrase that I have used many times since in my life. When someone is going to show or tell me how to do something, I will sometimes say, “Please start with, ‘There are 52 cards in the deck.’!” Usually the person I have said that to will get a quizzical look on their face, but then I can see a light go on, they get my meaning … please start at the verrrry beginning.
So, next time you are going to tell or show someone how to do something, you might want to remember to start with the equivalent of, “‘There are 52 cards in the deck.”