I remember an old Jewish story about humility that came from R. Leib Sarah's. It went something like this: a boy is asking a young man about his studies. Since the young man had to travel a great distance everyday to study with the master, the boy was curious as to why the young man put himself through such hardship? What are you learning about the Torah? What secrets have you learned? The young man replied, "I travel to the Maggid not to hear Torah from him. I travel to see how he ties and unties his shoelaces."
The Old Jewish Man by Rembrandt
That basic concept that one could learn a lot about oneself by watching a master do everyday life things is what I was willing to doing when I visited Educational Solutions to see the master, Dr. Gattegno.
On this particular day, I especially lucked out because Dr. G was conducting a teacher seminar. Dr. G allowed me to sit in the back, but I was not to say a word-- only observe.
The seminar was going well when suddenly, an older female teacher got into a debate with Dr. G. Dang, what was she thinking? I had missed the details that started the argument because I was observing a group of teachers working with the Cuisenaire Rods. However, right before the lunch break, this woman stands up and angrily pronounces, "Excuse me, but I've been teaching for 20 years!"
That was a priceless moment. This was the early 80's, and I had never heard anyone say that to a teacher.
It was food for thought.
Even if one teaches the same grade and the same curriculum year after year after year, it should never be the same. The grade and curriculum may be the same, but everything else is new from the students, to (in many cases) the administration, and even the times one lives in.. When a teacher stops learning, it is time to retire.
Dr. Gattegno stood up and
"Let me suggest that you taught for one year and repeated yourself 19 times."
The woman busted out crying, and Dr. G sat and talked with her alone for the entire lunch hour.
I never spoke with Dr. G about that moment, and he never brought it up. There was no need. It was clear. "Teach" how the student learns.
The best time to learn something is when you know it all.