Oldest child asked me to throw ball day after Thanksgiving.
“I’m not good at throwing” I told him.
“Not good” means “can be improved” he told me. “You could improve right now, want to?”
Point was unassailable, so I went outside.
He watched me throw. He spent three minutes showing me what to change: (arm up, bent elbow like scooping air; hand straight back behind my head; step forward as I throw- it’s not quite like sword and shield but more like it than I realized.)
Instead of the wild, flat side arm throws I have done all my life, I could suddenly throw sweet-feeling, accurate arcs that hovered above his glove and dropped neatly into it. It was kind of uncanny actually. I would not have believed this was possible except this is not the first time he has taught me something I did not think I could learn.
It was fun.
I was impressed with myself.
The learning was between me and myself: he had not put himself between me and my own learning: quite the opposite.
Teaching is a skill. When someone has it, they make teaching look easy. Learning feels effortless, like natural discovery, and it is fast, and fascinating.
The greatest teachers I’ve known can make a bigger difference in three minutes than others can in hours or months or forever.
It feels like magic.
When a good leader leads, the people applaud the leader.
When the great leader leads, the people say “we did it ourselves.”
(Alas: the contrary is true. Someone who is unaware that teaching is a skill and a sublime art can attempt to teach, and you can be put in moments far further from your own learning than you were before you met them. Though the lack of skill and awareness belong to them, the effect is: you will doubt yourself, possibly forever…. which reminds me. I wonder when I decided that I could not throw? I was wrong, but I did not know it until now.)