To teach is to learn

” To teach is to learn” ~Japanese proverb

“To teach is to learn twice” ~Joseph Joubert (a French essayist and moralist)

About a year ago, I had the opportunity (although I didn’t see it as such at the time) to volunteer as a teen-teacher/helper at a Classical Conversations practicum. I thought I had volunteered (ahem, been volunteered by a certain mother of mine) to babysit. I thought I was going to help out at childcare. I was in for a surprise.
The first day on the job, I was assigned a table of 5-8 year old boys. I was their leader, they were my little pack. I was thoroughly amazed by the amount of information the little boys absorbed. As a class, we memorized all the names of the South American countries, as well as most of the countries in Africa. On the second day of the job, the adult in charge of the class had to leave for a couple hours-leaving me, and a couple other teenage helpers in charge. We were responsible for 7 activities (including a messy craft involving shaving cream :D), making sure the kids really did have the country names down and introducing some aspects of Africa. I was assigned the task of teaching about 40 5-8 year olds about the Sahara desert. Time out. I had never studied the Sahara desert! I didn’t even know where it was! How could I, with thirty minutes notice, teach a bunch of kids about it? How could I engage them, well still presenting valuable information (of which I didn’t even know yet)?

Honestly, looking back, I don’t think I did a great job on it. My presentation to the kids lasted maybe five minutes, and I doubt any of them actually remember it. The real treasure here was for me! I remember it, and probably will for the rest of my life. Sure, I learned about the Sahara desert. But more than that, I learned the true value of teaching others~even if the other person gains nothing, the teacher gains so much by just trying to explain a topic-however unsuccessful that attempt may be.

How encouraging and awe-inspiring it is to think that God planned it all out perfectly! No human knows everything, but one individual may know just a little more than another, and by teaching that other person, both individuals profit. How efficient! How hopeful. Even as imperfect humans, we can be rest assured that teaching the truth never comes back void.

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