When the teacher is ready…

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

It’s a simple enough concept – when you are ready to learn something new, someone will arrive to help take you to the next level.

When the teacher is ready, the students will appear.

Again, a fairly simple concept – an ironic reversal of the previous statement, reflecting how when you are ready to share knowledge, students will find their way to you.

However, a few days ago, Joanna Hsu was kind enough to share with me a new insight on this old and delightful notion. That not only are these phrases similar in structure, but that they are actually equivalent in meaning. As ‘real’ teachers are not just telling people what to think, but rather they are called to demonstrate that which they purport to know, both the role of teacher and student are learning processes; when a ‘teacher’ is ready to learn by demonstrating their skills to ‘students’, individuals will present themselves to the ‘teacher’ to help them learn – to take them to the next level.

As we are perpetually and simultaneously both students and teachers, we can remember that when we come across an interesting or challenging student, we are being called to demonstrate.