On Teaching


On Teaching

Michael Ryan


I think we often mistake teaching for being told what to do by someone. Is explicit instruction good teaching?  If one can take a person from A to B, in a simple step-by-step manner, then they are usually considered a great teacher.  Although, in my experience, this style tends to creates dependency and ultimately complacency.

“I treat my students like my kids. I want that they leave home and build their own life. From time to time they visit and bring something good.” -Jozef Frucek


It’s difficult to take responsibility for our own development. It’s convenient to be told what to do and how to do it. Using someone else’s experience to inform our decisions requires less struggle and exploration. It may be time effective, but it could also rob us from discovering who we are and what we actually aspire to do in our lifetime.

It also feels good to attach and identify with something. Through this, we often become dogmatic and that ultimately retards our development. Camps are built, then eventually walls, and our world gets smaller.

Variety is the spice of life. Exposure to another person’s view can certainly provide valuable insight through which we can improve our own situation. Although, in today’s age, we probably have too much outside information. If anything, we need less interference from external sources and more freedom to think for ourselves. But again, this takes a unique combination of curiosity and patience.


If we study children, it seems they learn best by observing. Regarding their maturation, the environment they are exposed to is monumental. Are adults much different?

I think Lao Tzu said it best,

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.

When his work is done,

the people say, “Amazing:

we did it, all by ourselves!”


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2 Responses

  1. It’s a very provocative piece. I am not clear about the relationship of the author and the person who is talking in the video. I am also not sure I am willing to give up teaching people information. I believe that we have new information that does need to be taught. Teaching people something new requires internalization and that is the process where it becomes uniquely their own.. Certain forms of information are necessary as we help each other in the process of self discovery. I am thinking in particular in this context of some of the new anatomical concepts that are coming out and which affect our understanding of our own body so deeply.

    1. Interesting take, Jim. I’m not sure ‘no information’ was Michael’s intention, just a more just creating a situation where the student can learn what is most applicable to them on their own. I will post another ‘outside of the box’ teaching style next Monday, called ‘Silent Teaching’, and am curious about your response.

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