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

November 22, 2018

Choosing a teaching technique

Everybody agrees that teachers can be wonderful people, and they can be awful. If you're interested in teaching and training, I recommend that you choose a technique. My particular technique is "first person" - that is, sharing information on what works for me. I like this technique and I recognize it when other people use it.

You can, of course, choose to teach in absolutes. Many people do this, and while they make terrible teachers, they are wonderful for creating the type of stereotype that we love to hate. They rant and rave, and express truths that are "carved in stone" that require the type of memorization that doesn't teach anything, except that it's best to avoid being in front of a teacher like that. When I've had teachers like this, I've listened carefully, memorized for the test, and never gave them a second thought.

On the other extreme of the terrible teacher scale, there are the people who give so many different answers that nothing seems to make sense. If you're that kind of teacher, chances are you're just trying to be nice, and let everyone express their opinion. Since there are "no wrong answers" for this technique, there are naturally no correct answers, not really. When I've been confronted by this type of teacher I smile and try to edge away.

My goal is to stay away from these extremes, and what I do is to talk about what works for me. Luckily, I teach graphic design, so I can tell you how I make drop shadows in Photoshop. Of course there isn't just one way to do it, but I show how I do it, and move on to the next thing. Since there are lots of ways to do it, if it becomes a classroom discussion, it can use up the entire class time. So I show what I do, and if someone mentions that there are other ways to do it, they can have a little of the class' time. But I draw the line, and move on.

As a student, when I want to learn from someone, I try to coach them to use the same first person technique. If, for example, you're hitting them long and straight off of the tee, I may ask you how you do it. If you start going to either extreme, talking about "how it should be done", or "how many people choose to do it", I'll guide you back. Tell me what works for you.

I recommend the first person if you're interested in teaching and training. You don't have to know everything, and you don't have to know what everyone else knows - you just have to know what you know. And you do! Simply sharing that may not seem valuable to you, but it's the most valuable thing that you can do. That's what teaching is all about, simply sharing what you know.

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