Teach

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You’d think it would be difficult to find a notion that includes, in various definitions and languages, to lead into vice or bad habits, a token, to watch or guard, and those quite aside from the well-known definition. Turns out it’s not impossible, teaching covers the lot and more 🙂 Sounds a bit strange, when you think about it, but for once I am not interested in etymology.

You see, there is something about the ability to teach that sparks every nerve cell in my body. I love to learn. I mean, I really love it. The worse punishment you could give me as a child was to tell me I could not go to school that day. And that was without even taking teachers into consideration. I was interested in learning but having in front of me someone who actually knew those subjects, oh, my, divinity was simply too little a gift for them! Yeah, well, I was always a bit OTT 🙂

I had a bit of a problem though. Most children learn to please others and I was no exception. Most children move on though as they grow up and they learn for their own sake. I never made that move completely. I could still learn a subject with a bad teacher if it was in my interest but no matter how much I loved that subject or how good I was at it, bad teaching would lead to me giving up that subject.

I sometimes made teachers uncomfortable. I am an impossible pupil unless you are very confident in what you teach. My memory, like so many children of my generation, has been honed over years of rote learning. I stare at teachers for hours on end if allowed trying to absorb everything they can give. I always have a answer and I am quick about it. I am also reasonable with analysis and synthesis. I test teachers to make sure they remember their own words. All in all, perfect for one on one tuition, but horrid in a classroom 🙂

I mentioned once that between people and books, the books almost won. The reason they didn’t is because they are simply not personal enough. Yes, yes, yes, I know that everybody perceives the same book differently, but that is not enough for me. I want to be taught. I want to look at the teaching subject not through the static lens of a book but through the eyes of a person who loves that subject. I am not asking much, am I? 😛

An example is gardening. I have read uncounted books on it and experimented in my garden and the results have been dismal. I am now learning to garden organically and I can’t wait for each class. A subject I love taught by a teacher who loves it… a no brainer, really!

I am also very angry if a teacher is not good. It’s the unfairness of it, you know? Here is a subject that could be taught so well and could change lives in the bargain… and what are you doing with it? How dare you make a hash of it? Horrid pupil, like I said!

Of course I would love to have private tutors for each subject I want to learn (and there are many, as described in yet another blog). Small groups seem to be ok though, so I’ll stick to it.

But what I would actually like is an apprenticeship. Does anyone know a person who’s skilled in herbalism and wouldn’t mind having me as a shadow?

Play

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It is commonly known that play is a child’s work. That one should allow for unstructured play. That play is complete in and of itself, without requiring a result, although it may have one anyway.

It is also commonly accepted that in growing up you will “put aside childish things” and acquire the focused, result driven, consequence-tempered approach of the adult. What I have observed is that in our “civilized” world, where we work more than monkeys but are less content than them , where every second of life is held to ransom but we have to wear headphones for music to blast away the boredom of our task, play is making a resurrection in the adult world. The five minutes of wind-gazing while you’re supposed to be working is play. The sexting without expecting an answer is play as well.

Un-needed experiments are also play. Those are my favourites. They are un-needed as I can easily find the results. They are also safe because my survival does not depend on the result. I can then fail. What a novel idea! 🙂 Not that I start with the idea of failing, I am too competitive for that. I start with the idea that I will win. At least I will learn something. If I fail, I can throw away the failure. This is waste and I do not condone it, I just acknowledge my luck that I have enough so I can fail without major consequence.

This seems very strange to other people. I don’t think they always understand why I should even experiment. I also don’t think they understand why I am not very upset when I do fail. In other words, why I play and not take things (life?) seriously enough. They like it only if I get a result that they like as well.

There is gratitude in me that I should have enough raw material so that I may be free to experiment. Like milk, raw, fresh, safe and yummy. Sometimes I get to the end of the week and I have not touched the bucket. Tomorrow I will get another bucket. Hm… seems a waste to pour it as fertilizer for the plants. Right, I guess we could make cheese. I can buy cheese from the supermarket. Yes, that’s true, but why not make it yourself? Ok, let’s make cheese. What sort of cheese? Most of the time I am smart and try an easy/fail-proof recipe. But nice as the result is, the learning is small. So next time I will try something more complicated. Success again, the feeling is better! The next time I will try something even more complicated… drat, I failed! Where did I fail? I followed the recipe religiously! Hm… I guess it was step 2 out of 3 possible. I put the drained cheese to heat up in hot milk. I think I need to put them to heat up together, then the whey might have a chance to actually separate… and then I can make ricotta out of that… brilliant, next time I will succeed!

The result was a bit of rubbery substance, some funny-looking milk, an empty bucket and a heck of a lot of dishes and cloths to wash. Given that I am not a child, I have thrown away the rubbery would-be cheese, I poured the milk as fertilizer and washed and cleared away the evidence myself. Some wasted resources were acknowledged and a lot of learning was integrated. I was happy and did not understand why I was not encouraged to try again. How else would I learn? What do you mean, what is the purpose of that learning? As my beloved Heinlein would say, “specialization is for insects”.

No, I did not need that cheese. Yes, I could have bought it from the supermarket.

I just wanted to play. I could. No one got hurt, abandoned or suffered because I played. So I did.