The Real Reason People “Want To Teach”

November 2, 2018By

ClassroomTeaching is a natural state of life.

But it seems that much of the learning that occurs is by observation.

Using all the senses to pay attention to what others are doing. Then copying and innovating.

Some people seem to learn from lecture. But that seems to be a small percentage. Yet there seems to be a common urge among people to want to teach others.

They make it seem altruistic. When pressed to talk about what they really want to do many people will say that they want to teach.

Or if someone has been in their industry or job for awhile they feel burned out. They want to stop. They want to teach what they’ve learned.

What is the urge to teach?

Is it altruistic?

Is it a potential trap?

Ego Filling From Teaching

Sometimes the work world can really wear you down. When you feel worn down it makes sense to seek out something that feels good. And teaching feels good. For some people more than others, but it seems like it’s definitely something people seek out.

When you teach, you’re showing your knowledge. You feel power over someone. The teacher is a person of power while the student is in a position of weakness.

At least that’s the common belief and practice. It’s how some teachers like to think of the situation.

But on the flip side, some of the most successful people I’ve known have been learners. They’ve sought out teachers. For all aspects of life. They look for knowledge in areas outside of their current range of knowledge.

They don’t care what other people think. They don’t care about the power balance. They are comfortable with themselves and know that the path to success is more often about learning than teaching.

Avoiding Growth

Many people talk about having a learning mindset, but not many follow it. It’s not easy to keep learning. But it seems like learning new things is becoming increasingly important. As technology and advancement increase more rapidly, things will change more often. And with change comes the need for growth. The need for learning.

The analogy is a plant. A flower. It’s always in one of two states 1) growth 2) dying. There is no moment when the flower is standing still.

But as humans, we seek comfort. We seek familiarity and certainly. That often leads us to want to stay in the same place that we are now. Or to actually go backwards to a former time. It’s comfortable.

But we’re no different than a flower. We’re either growing or dying. Teaching might be a form of dying. Not always, but sometimes. If you decide to stop the growth of your knowledge you might be avoiding growth.

Teaching For Those That Seek It

Now, there does seem to be a way that teaching can be good. I think it’s selfish in a different way. It’s about looking for ways to grow and learn with teaching as the byproduct.

Some of the most successful people in history kept journals. Diaries. They documented their life. And years later when people would read those journals they would learn lessons.

But at the time of those journals the person writing probably wasn’t thinking about teaching. They were thinking about learning. They wrote things down or recorded their thoughts as a way to improve their learning.

It seems selfish, but it might be the best way to teach. You do it for yourself and those that want to learn are able to find it.

But that would mean being vulnerable with how you create content. It would mean publishing it with something like a blog, podcast or video series.

Final Thought

Teaching certainly seems mobile and altruistic. But if you’re feeling that you want to teach take some time to analyze why you want it. If you’re looking for a way to feel good about yourself or to stop the growth and find comfort it may be a red flag. Teaching is not bad. The reason behind it could be.