This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

How to turn ignorant comments in to teaching moments

There are a lot of ignorant people in the world, and I'm one of them. There are so many things that I don't know about that I'm often reluctant to say anything for fear of showing my ignorance. So, like most people, I remain silent, and when I do ask questions I make sure that I'm talking to someone who will explain and share, not become angry, or belittle my ignorance, or degrade me.

Those people are called teachers. They don't have to be sitting behind a desk with an apple on it. They can be anyone. They have knowledge that they'd like to share. And if you're a teacher, or would like to be, stop talking for a moment, and listen.

What you're listening for is ignorance. No, I don't mean stupidity, I mean ignorance, there's a difference. Someone who is ignorant of something isn't necessarily stupid, they just don't know about something. They may never have seen something, or heard of something. When I set out to learn the Metric System last year, most of the people I talked to were ignorant of it. And their ignorant comments helped me to understand how people deal with things they don't understand. They become angry, defensive, and often say that "it doesn't matter", dismissing what they don't know. That's normal human nature. No one wants to be seen as ignorant of important things.

But in my journey I've met teachers. People who have recognized my ignorance, and have shared what they know. I call them masters, or senseis. It may have taken them years to learn what they know, and I'm grateful if they take a few minutes to share with me.

If you're a master, or a sensei, or a teacher, you need to recognize when there is a teaching moment. And it's very common. Someone may say, "how come ya like dachshunds so much?" and there you go, they have exposed their ignorance, and there's your invitation to explain. That's what teachers do.