The student and the teacher / by Evan La Ruffa

It's interesting thinking about the way students and teachers interact. Even though the teacher is largely the person imparting knowledge and perspective, the greatest exchange happens when both parties know there is learning to do.

I had an interaction recently where the person I was chatting with looked at me as the teacher. I was having that conversation when the thought came up, "You can learn a lot from this person even though it's clear that right now they are hoping to learn from you."

I mentioned something along those lines to my conversation partner. I reflected that even when we play the role of the teacher, that it's important to allow ourselves to be taught.

I reflected on various interactions I've had playing either role, and my main takeaway is that the natural hierarchy can blind both the student and the teacher to certain insights, if they're not careful.

If the student thinks her teacher is bulletproof, she's sure to miss important critiques, parallel ideas, or valid negations of that school of thought.

If the teacher thinks she has nothing to learn, she's sure to miss out on important takeaways their youthful counterpart might offer.

Depriving ourselves of insight by blindly protecting our chosen ideals or thinking our knowledge can't be improved are mirrored oversights.

No matter what role we think we're playing, we're always both the student and the teacher.