Teacher, Empty Thy Cup By Alethea Thompson
We use the saying “empty your cup” frequently when we talk about students. But perhaps there is an arrogance to this phrasing. It insists that the teacher is superior and should be trusted. But the truth is, the teacher needs to learn too. Because not every student will learn the same. And sometimes you’re not the reason they succeed. A long time ago, I met a couple Jedi that refused to claim the various mentors they had over the years as their Training Master. When I probed a bit more on the topic, it came down to: Their training master didn’t teach them anything, they received recognition as ranked Jedi in their community simply because they were self-driven. They also had mixed reviews on the materialSometimes the material was relevant...but they already knew the information so it wasn’t anything new. Their Training Master basically acted as a testing agent. But you don’t really call the guy assessing your ability to drive your driving teacher, do you? Sometimes the material was irrelevant, it had nothing to do with growing as a person- let alone a Jedi. Maybe that was the fault of the training master believing that the student would get the same results they did when they worked on the material. Maybe the training master could have engaged more to help them work through the material. Who knows. But at the end of the day, if the work isn’t relevant, then it feels like your Training Master isn’t actually engaged in teaching you, but rather producing the same model standard. Sometimes the material was relevant, but it wasn’t enough that the student felt like their training master was really engaged. It was simply happenstance. This isn’t to say that online educators, such as those you find at an online college, aren’t successful educators. Some do go above and beyond, while others just grade. This isn’t to say that Lecturers aren’t successful educators, some people respond really well to that model. Beyond the model, there’s you too- teacher. If you’re not living up to the words you are saying to your student, they have no reason to believe your model works. The whole “do as I say, not as I do” simply doesn’t grab the attention of most people. It lords authority, when your authority seems to have failed you. This is crux of itSome students in the room will claim you, but others won’t....because the model doesn’t work for them or your behavior has undermined your model. But the moment you blame the student for their failure, while standing up another for their success in your program, you have reached the height of ego. A student may succeed regardless of who their training master is. A student might even fail regardless of who their training master is. But a training master must be able to be honest with themselves as to whether or not they are the reason a student failed. In the Jedi Community, I’ve seen it happen several times over. I’ve had it happen in my own interactions. Some students respond to my teaching methods, while others do not. If I want them to succeed, I either have to find someone who can teach them using different methods, or I have to meet them and adapt my own. We say that teachers are also suppose to be students. But if we are to acknowledge this, we have to accept that it’s not just the student which must empty their cup- it’s us too.