Learning gets categorized. We turn it into something that happens in school. Or we look for it from a designated teacher person. But learning happens more in the day to day that anywhere else.
I find some of my greatest lessons in the casual interactions with people near me. I was talking with a friend about squat technique. We got to a difficult question about the feel of the bottom position. It’s one thing to say do this and that with your legs and butt and knees. It’s another to actually be under the bar and do them.
His questions challenged me. What does it feel like? I dug deep to bring out how I process it. The inner mind workings are really a different thing from the mechanics of the body. Instead of thinking that I’m lowering down with the weight, and bouncing out of the bottom, I’m actually feeling it all happen. So how it feels is going to be different for everyone.
As I walked through my mental cues with my friend, he rephrased certain parts, and broke them down with me to make sense of them. I realized his genius in being able to verbalize some of the concepts of body mechanics. Regardless of how long I’ve studied the squat, there were ways of describing it that my friend had that I would never have come to myself.
I came to an even better understanding of the squat after our talk. Although I was the one in the “coach” position, I was also in a learning situation. It struck me that any meaningful teaching interaction becomes a learning interaction. The only way to teach someone is to learn the workings of their mind and to format what is known to that person’s mind. This is fundamentally a learning experience for the teacher. Almost more so than for the supposed student.
To teach is to place oneself in the position of learning. It’s more than simply verbalizing information. That is not teaching. It’s sharing knowledge. Teaching goes beyond recitation, to piece knowledge together in a manner that is comprehensible to a specific someone. This requires an understanding of that person.
Teaching is learning. It’s an exchange of the workings of each other’s minds. You can learn by venturing to teach, and you can teach best by preparing yourself to learn.