by ALISTAIR BOMPHRAY & JESSE SCACCIA
Here’s the thing. The kids are smarter than you. They are brilliant, funny, creative, and perceptive. They will blow you away if you open yourself to it. I cannot say this enough: If you’re listening, they will teach you more than you will teach them.
It’s the reason why the student-teacher relationship is considered sacred in so many cultures. It’s why it’s possible to teach for thirty years and not burn out. This thing we call “teaching” (a conceit that negates the fact that we are also “learners”) should be life-giving, even if it achieves the opposite effect in many of our stressed-out, exhausted colleagues.
But you simply cannot, under any circumstances, worry about the students being smarter than you. This suggests that you are not okay with the very real possibility that they are. And that kind of insecurity will lead you to resist (on a conscious or subconscious level) any attempt by students to reach higher than you are able to reach. Which is cardiac arrest to a classroom.
Like with any leader unsure of himself, ego and self-image will start to come before results. Or as Marsellus Wallace said in Pulp Fiction, “That’s pride fucking with you. You’ve got to fight through that stuff.”
There is a reason that in our stories and myths the student inevitably surpasses the master. The best teachers don’t fight this – they facilitate it.