The Power Of Teachers

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Freakonomics” is the hidden side of everything.  Apparently.  I have to take the authors’ word for.  Basically, the point is looking at every day events and rather than speculating on the reasons and causes, using real life data to analyse those events and suggest reasons and causes.  The authors have written two books, ‘Freakonomics‘ and ‘Superfreakonomics‘, and produce a blog and a podcast.  I follow them for a number of reasons, first and foremost is that they choose interesting, often current, sometimes off the wall topics and look at those topics in a completely different way, and back up their views with actual real life data.  Their conclusions often provide food for thought, as do their methods.

Sometimes though, they end up with something quite simple and traditional.  Recently one of the authors, Stephen Dubner, visited his old university and talked with his three favourite professors about the three things he learnt in their courses that changed his life (podcast and transcript).  It is a beautiful discussion where an ex-student tells the stories of the events that led to the lessons that continue to influence him to this day.  For the record, those three lessons were:

“Number one: do not blame your tools.

Number two: be willing to learn from everything, and everybody.

Number three: know your audience, or at least know your idiom.”

Those are definitely great lessons that everyone could take on board.

However what was interesting for me, was that none of the professors remembered the events that led to those life altering lessons.  Effectively none of the lessons were intentional on the part of the professors.  Certainly all of the professors intended to teach, but it turns out that they actually had a lot less control over what was taught.  This reflects my own experiences.  There have been countless times when a player has related to me something that I don’t remember saying, or was not necessarily the most important point that I was trying to get across.

And so the (unintended) lesson that I got from listening to this podcast is, that a teacher is always teaching.

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