Saturday, 10 May 2014

Paying back ... or at least forward

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn (or I will understand)." 

For me, this is a great quote, that I believe has been around in various forms since the days of ancient China.

The challenge though is how rarely it seems to be applied. Perhaps being the least in the last decade compared to ever in history.

What I mean is ...

To 'tell' someone something they must be listening closely enough to ask questions if you are being vague; or at least for you to clarify for them so they understand you.

To 'teach', one must be willing to be taught. This applies to the student and the teacher, and I remain astounded by the number of people who consider themselves no longer a student as soon as they graduated out of school. As stated by an old proverb, "Only a fool knows all."

To 'involve' is no more of an isolated category than the previous two. And like the other two categories it is a relationship of sorts between the provider and the receiver. It is also a more involved or deeper relationship because it requires more effort to complete. It also creates more value for the short and the long term. As in the movie "Mr Holland's Opus" this teacher learned at the end of his career when he was feeling at his lowest the true impact of his efforts. Most teachers have their students for a few months and then are never seen again. The truly great teachers have students who stay in touch, make the effort to say hello on the street, or attend show their appreciation in other ways with a positive impact that lasts a very long time. 

The question that remains is whether you want to be average or mediocre in the things that only the unique you can do. I'm also neither saying do this for free. Part of the value measurement of any effort is based on what people are willing to pay for it. 

That said, over the last couple of years especially it seems there are more and more greedy and unethical businesses who have been discreetly re-implementing indentured servitude or slavery, and some I'm sure believing themselves wonderful human beings for doing so. They tell themselves they are offering an education that those students would otherwise be excluded from. Their slaves are given labels like intern or football scholarship recipient and that's supposed to make it okay. Back when I was young and for hundreds of years before that when people did a job where they were also learning something it was called being an apprentice or in a co-op program through the institute of higher learning; and we all got paid.