Teaching Without a Student

There are a lot of ways to teach something. When we are asked “How do you do your work?” and to share that with someone else, there are multiple ways to respond.

One way to respond is to withhold detailed information about what you do to protect your job security, but I have spoken of why this should not be relied on.

One could teach their job functions purely at a detailed level, without putting in perspective how each of those functions interact or what the overall targeted result is. This teaching method may be most effective when your work inputs and outputs are expected to be constant, such as repeatedly manufacturing a bolt to meet specified dimensions.

One could also teach their job functions strictly at a general level, without providing too many details about how to actually take your inputs and deliver your outputs. This teaching method may be most effective when your work inputs and outputs are expected to fluctuate frequently, such as teaching someone how to teach for different types of subjects.

These are just a few examples of approaches, which only take into account the subject of what is being taught. There are other considerations which affect the effectiveness of a teaching style, such as who is the teacher and who is being taught.

In short, different people prefer to learn in different ways, different people prefer to teach in different ways, and different subjects require varying degrees of focus on teaching details and showing perspective.

Teaching and learning is most effective when people come together. But if you had to, how would you best play the teaching game as a single player?

Currently I am in the process of trying to capture the knowledge required to perform [my job function] so that someone after me can continue doing what I do.  Now suppose that I was planning to teach you how to perform [my job function], without even meeting you. For this case, what is the best way for you to learn?

I know what [my job function] is, which way I would prefer to teach, and how I would prefer someone to learn. But my contribution of teaching is only one part of the learning process.  So as I start writing this guide about “How do I do my work?”, I also find myself asking things like “How did I learn how to do my work?”, “Would other people like to learn the way I did?”, “What would I have liked to learn at the beginning which I only discovered later on?”, “How would ‘YOU’ like to learn?”, and ultimately “Who even is the ‘YOU’ in this process?”  I am trying to teach you “How do I do my work?” even before the fact that I have met you or understand how you like to learn. So how should I teach you?

I think one of the best ways to teach a subject is to adapt to the person being taught. This is not always easily accomplished, because the teacher has to pay attention and figure out what works best for the student. Because of this difficulty, sometimes we see teachers sticking to one method and forcing their students to accept it or move on. I don’t like this one-way approach, but I also don’t have the luxury of figuring out how I should adapt to the student (you).

Teaching is not best done as a single player activity, but we may still be asked to do it.  So what’s a good way to approach this?


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