Teaching Matters: The Top 5 Benefits
I read this Spanish viral post on Linkedin entitled: Dear College Graduate Student: We are cheating on you. It goes a bit about how things have changed when teaching college students. I am in no position to discuss the topic. However, for reasons I am incredibly grateful, some people --especially at Esade-- are allowing me to teach programming with Python and AI. I got to teach this winter graduate college students at different faculties. And while I cannot say teaching 20-21-year-olds is effortless, essentially because they get distracted easily, and I still need to learn a lot. I want to share how teaching can benefit anyone that dares to do it based on some things I enjoyed and my aftermath thoughts.
Despite teaching not being my job, I think, in general, we need more teaching. We need more people passing their knowledge. Because, in essence, teaching gives you a lot if you do it with passion and motivation, and you will be better off if you do it than if you don't. Here are my five reasons / top benefits:
Teaching allows you to learn
Have the chance to get recognized
A stage to share your knowledge
Put your reputation on the line
Make a Positive Impact
Understand two things before starting. First, when I say teaching, I mean every opportunity you have that involves making other people understand something you are good at. Second, I focus the blog on the benefits of doing it from a part-time/sporadic perspective. Also, remember, I am just a simple guy trying to encourage people to do it more and feel good about it.
1. Teaching allows you to learn
Feynman said that if you want to master something, teach it. How right he was. My university degree had little to do with Computer Science and Mathematics. That complicates matters when you want to assimilate some concepts and understand the math foundations. However, when I teach, I need to explain all this "techy" stuff in a way everybody can understand. Essentially because I also teach people with different backgrounds. Thus, being in this position pushes me to understand things from their root to then explain any concept in the simplest terms. The take-home message is that there is a remarkable difference between applying concepts you thought you understood and being on the spot to make people understand. There is no doubt that the preparation can be a total learning experience. And, by the way, even if you are good at the tech stuff, being able to communicate such terms is a challenge. In essence, teaching is an art, and it starts with learning.
Take teaching as a personal learning experience. Understand first then make yourself understood.
2. Have the chance to get external recognition
When I was doing my Ph.D., sometimes we discussed that there was not a lot of external within the Ph.D. journey. It boils down to papers and talks that you give. However, the truth is that if you work hard on something, everybody enjoys being told that they are doing a good job. I think teaching allows you to get recognized. If your students can learn from you, you connect with them, and they see your knowledge, some will surely let you know immediately during class or at least through their work. Hence, teaching allows you to get constant feedback, not only to improve but also to realize that your work delivers value.
Directly or indirectly teaching gives you the opportunity to get a certain degree of recognition
3. A stage to share your knowledge
It's funny that in school or university, I could be hesitant to share my work and help others, and now I feel like I want to share my journey with everybody willing to listen. I want to help people not make the same mistakes, tell them my experience so they can learn from it, and share what I have worked hard to understand so that it takes them less time. However, sometimes it is not easy to find a stage. For instance, I try to share my thoughts through this blog, and some days I do it better than others. However, teaching gives you that stage to share what you know. One does not daily have the chance to pass their knowledge to people eager to learn daily (even if that is only a fraction of the class). Having a stage is already a huge benefit that should not be taken for granted. When you teach you can make what you say matter, and that is a gift.
There is nothing better than sharing your knowledge with somebody that is willing to listen
4. Put your reputation on the line
Being in front of 10-20-50 or 100 students is no joke. Maybe the feeling of having to perform vanishes with time, but at this stage of my career, I take significantly seriously how students perceive what I do and the fact of being prepared for a class. I feel like my reputation is on the line. I work every day with the things that I teach, and not being able to answer questions or teaching it poorly would mean in my head not dominating what I am teaching. Therefore, I think one of the benefits, and yes, I say it correctly, one of the benefits of teaching what you are supposed to know is that it may make you feel like you are putting part of your reputation on the line. If that is the case, it will surely push you to give your best and improve.
Put your reputation on the line when teaching and you will surely shine to protect it
5. Make a Positive Impact
All in all, if you learn while you teach, try to put passion into it, share your knowledge, and feel like you get recognized by your students. Then most certainly you are making a positive impact. It may take months, years, or decades for a student or colleague to come back and tell you how important you were to him/her during that time, but it may happen. I am lucky to have two amazing role teacher models as my mum and my dad, and I am sure they are the happiest when things like this happen. They are incredibly good at it. I am sure I will never get close to them, but maybe I try to take some steps toward that. I am sure those tiny steps will make a positive impact, at least, on a fraction of the people they had one on.
I am sure that my mum and dad have made a positive impact on a lot of people, and that is gotta be an amazing reward for their work
Essentially, teach because you feel like it. People will appreciate it.
Top 5 Books of January
Deep Work. Cal Newport
Desert Star. Michael Connelly
Good Economics for Hard Times. Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee
Start With a Why. Simon Sinek
48 Rules of Power. Robert Greene
Thank you for reading the blogs, and feel free to follow me on Twitter if you want to know more about me.
From a friend,