Coming from a family of teachers and having been one myself, I always heard the quote putting down teaching as a job people did when they couldn’t do anything else. “Those who can do – those who can’t teach.” So when I saw the above quote in this week’s New York Times, it caught my attention. The article was by Adam Grant, one of the best lecturers in my grad program at Penn. He uses as an example that Einstein was really a poor teacher. He couldn’t translate his incredibly complex thinking into any sort of communication that would explain his concepts to beginners. When I was in college, I worked as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at a local country club. A grandmother came in one day and said her grandson was staying with her for a month and she wanted him to learn how to swim. She had heard we had a state championship swimmer on staff and she wanted him – he was obviously the best. After one day with the child, the swimmer came back and said the kid was useless. There was no way he could teach him to swim. I had an opening and said I’d take him. By the end of the month, he could jump into the deep end and swim to the shallow end. It wasn’t pretty, but neither was he going to drown. I went on to be an English teacher and tutored in my spare time. I remember working with a high school girl who was failing chemistry. I hadn’t taken chemistry in high school or college, but we read the book together and I was able to explain things to her in a way she understood – and she passed chemistry.
I spent 30 years in a corporate career after the girl’s father offered me a job as a trainer at his place of employment – an insurance company. I finished my corporate career as Chief Operating Officer. I credit my success to being able to learn and being able to teach. Now, I get to combine my love of learning, practical experience, ability to teach and coach to help others.
One of my favorite teaching opportunities is coming up in October. My WhyNot? Seminar Series for Women is back on the calendar and available to women in or near Omaha. As much as I love the teaching part of this seminar, lively discussions and questions among participants is strongly encouraged and, as a result, I never fail to learn something new!