The oldest relationship known to man people claim is that of husband and wife. I think there is one relationship slightly older and just as sacred, that of teacher/ student. When fire was discovered or more appropriately when someone discovered how to start a fire and he or she showed or “taught ” others how to start a fire the relationship of teacher and student was born.
When we talk of teacher/ student relationships we invariably talk about the responsibility the teacher has to the student. That is of course to teach , but in any successful relationship it has to be a two way street. I remember a song from the 80′s while I can’t recall who sang it, the lyric where profound, ” Everyone has two jobs. Those that know, your job is to teach and for those that don’t know your job is to learn”.
Much less talked about is the obligation of the student in the teacher/ student relationship ? The student’s job is obviously to learn but it’s more than that. A good student makes a good teacher better, but a great student can change the world. What differentiate a good student form a great student is the amount of effort and enthusiasm they bring to the learning opportunity. They challenge the teacher to be a better and to strive for greatness hence allowing the teacher to learn and grow. A great student bring greatness out of their teacher. It’s a give / give relationship, being a good student makes the teacher better and having a good teacher makes the student better.
I have the pleasure at this stage in my life to be teaching a great student how to play tennis. She is a much better student than I am a teacher which inspires me strive to be the quality of teacher deserving of a student of this caliber. She challenges me to be more than I thought possible. What makes her a good student ? Her desire to learn all that I can teach her is veracious. She challenges me when she doesn’t understand something to explain it in a way she will understand. She shows up early for every lesson and does more in every class than I ask of her and always stays late and continues to work after the lesson is over. She comes prepared to learn . She practices and hones her skill outside of class so when she comes to class she is better than when she left. Then we can fix what may not be working and address things she may not understand. She’s not talking when she should be listening. She is not ashamed of what she doesn’t know and that makes her open to learning new things. I know she doesn’t agree with everything I say and I wouldn’t want her too. At the appropriate times she challenges my thoughts and stances. What makes a good student a joy to teach is their unwavering desire to learn.
How many times have we as EMS providers sat in a class and someone feels the need to challenge the instructor in a confrontational or disrespectful manner because they think they know more or the information being introduced rubs on someones insecurity ? They view the fact they don’t know something as an affront to their intelligence. How many of us have been in a class with a person like that ? How many of us are that person ? I admit sometimes that is me, after 24 years in EMS when much younger instructors attempts to teach me something there is a little resistance. I have to be honest I am not always a great student which I believe has hindered my ability to be a great teacher at times.
I’m not throwing stones in a glass house because I acknowledge I am not a very good student at times and need to improve. The mark of a great student is when they become your teacher.