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  • Stanley Romanstein

Knowing and teaching are two very different capacities


Knowing and teaching are two different capacities

I watched with curiosity as the two volunteer coaches – fathers of other boys on my son’s recreational soccer team – tried to teach the game to an energetic group of 10- and 11-year-old boys. While it was evident that these volunteer coaches – and bless them for giving up a couple of nights every week to work with these kids – knew the game of soccer well enough, it was equally obvious that they had no idea how to teach.

We do teachers and the art of teaching a disservice when we allow ourselves to conclude that “well, anyone can teach.”

All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that if one knows something sufficiently well, one can convey that information to others in an organized, understandable, effective and engaging manner – i.e., that one can teach. Knowing and teaching, however, are two very different capacities.

To know is to have knowledge or information; to teach (to coach) is to make it possible for someone else to share that knowledge or information.

Effective teaching requires, beyond a firm grasp of the topic, an understanding – knowledge – of how others learn, of human intellectual and social development, of strategies for conveying information to people at different ages and stages of life, of appropriate behavioral management techniques, etc. Not everyone is capable of being a teacher.

Here’s to the teachers among us – and to those who wish they were.


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