To Teach Is Not To Preach: How Excitement And Participation Lead To Successful Education

Fact: there’s not a single thing in life for which it’s better to talk about than to actually experience it.

But we need to talk about things. Language helps our ideas become concrete. It gives them direction and potential.

So it’s not surprising that language is the cornerstone of any meaningful educational process.

The Teacher Talks, The Student Walks…

Yet, the critical question is: does the Student walk ahead on their Life’s true path or away from it upon hearing the Teacher’s words?

It clearly depends on what the Teacher will say. Especially in the beginning, when their relationship with the Student is formed.

But, of course, there’s another crucial parameter: the way in which the Teacher chooses to convey her teachings to the Student.

In fact, the latter (HOW) is more critical than the former (WHAT).

The How is the real “make or break” factor in the very sensitive initial stages of the Teacher-Student relationship.

Now, the Student (and every human being is, by definition, always ready to become a Student) is always eager and ready to listen.

While the Teacher (and very few human beings are born to become Teachers) is always eager and ready to speak and educate.

So, again, the key question is: what will the Teacher say and, most importantly, how will she say it?

The Teacher Who Becomes A Preacher

The Student knows very well (consciously or subconsciously) that her life’s true purpose is to never stop learning and growing to her next best version.

Therefore, the Student is thirsty to find the Teacher who will:

a) point her to the direction of the kind of learning and growth that’s closest to her heart; and

b) facilitate her moving towards it.

This is the pivotal point whereby a Student naturally gravitates towards one or the other Teacher.

And this is when the Teacher makes a choice, by asking herself:

Do I want to educate another human being and enter a participatory, and potentially transformational, Teacher-Student relationship?


Do I want to add a fanatic, brainless unit to my army of devotees?

Whoever opts for the former route, confirms that she is a true Teacher.

And whoever opts for the latter, relinquishes the title of the Teacher and turns instead into a Preacher.

Or, if you like, a shepherd of a flock of human sheep. One that is devoid of any distinctive personal feature, as far as the Preacher is concerned, other than being her proverbial property.

Let’s call these human sheep Followers.

Beings who are destined to exclusively serve as means to the Preacher’s, typically megalomaniac and frequently destructive, ends.

What Differentiates Preaching From Teaching?

This is a delicate question.

If one stays on the surface, it’s easy to confuse a Teacher with a Preacher.

Both deliver “sermons”, of which the content is not to be disputed by their recipients; be they Students or Followers.

(Here, one’s dissent leads, almost automatically, to one’s severance from the Body of the Teacher’s Students or the Preacher’s Followers).

Both have attached to them considerable numbers of other human beings, revering them almost like deities.

And they both reveal truths (or “truths”) which act as s game-changer when it comes to the lives of the people listening to them.

However, there’s a big difference:

The Teacher wants that her Students adhere to her teachings in order for them to transcend their “regular”, everyday selves and become who THEY want, and are meant, to become.

On the other hand, the Preacher aims that her Followers remain faithful to her word, in order for them to become who SHE wants them to become.

That is, soulless instruments at her hands.

Few Important Conclusions Follow This Fundamental Understanding:

The Teacher wants to ignite passion, excitement and enthusiasm in her Students’ hearts and minds. She fully understands and embraces Plutarch’s famous quote that:

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.

The Teacher knows that any truly successful educational journey progresses both gradually and in quantum leaps.

And she knows that her work only becomes complete when her student has grown so much as to not require her help any longer.

The Teacher invites and encourages her Student’s active and continuous participation in the educational process. She realizes that, before anything else, the latter is an unrepeatable, special relationship between two unique human beings.

In this respect, even the word “process” is probably wrong. We’re rather talking here about a distinct evolutionary path.

One that is a manifestation of Life’s spontaneity and fantastic, beyond words, vibrancy.

And the Teacher is always alert and present to ensure her Student remains alert and present. She achieves that in many ways. One example is by applying Constant Gentle Pressure.

In contrast to the Teacher, the Preaches relies on the lowest human instincts to manage her flock of Followers.

Her primary technique is the one of “carrot and stick”. That is: reward and punishment, with the latter increasing in absolute and relative frequency over the former as time goes by.

The Preacher’s goal is to create a relationship with her followers that mirrors the one an addict has with the object of her addiction.

In other words, the Preacher’s basic tool is the double-edged knife of desire and fear.

The one that every important spiritual tradition and/or religion in the history of humanity identifies as Sin.

In the deepest, truest sense of the word. Which is to stray from the path of self-awareness and knowledge and fall prey to ignorance.

The latter being the root cause of all true evil.

Here, allow me to recall the famous words Jesus Christ spoke, while on the cross:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

So, Where Do You Stand?

I invite you to take a step back and examine your current life situation.

Ask yourself:

Am I a Student?

Or am I a Follower?

Here, I propose you entertain the notion that this is a zero-sum game:

The more you become and act as a Student, the less of a Follower you are.

And vice-versa.

And, something important:

You can be a Follower of a person or of something impersonal.

Say, like an ideology or a trend.

Come to think of it, a Preacher is but an embodiment, or a channel, of such a set of ideas.

Rigid. Non-negotiable. Absolute.

To say it differently, a Preacher is merely a spokesperson. A “porte-parole”.

On the other hand, you can only be a Student of a human being.

Who may be dead or alive.

But who must have existed – or exist – in flesh and blood. As a, by definition unique, human presence.

OK, Then; How Am I Supposed To Find The Teacher Who I’m Meant To Become A Student Of?

Ah, no worries. You don’t need to actively look for her.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying:

When The Student Is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear…

What is less known is that this is complemented by another short sentence:

When The Student Is Truly Ready, The Teacher Will Disappear.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Which is, in a way, confirming what I’ve previously said in the present post.

Therefore, your first and foremost job as a Student is to get ready. Once you are ready for her, the Teacher will be there for you.

How to get ready?

By embarking on the journey of finding out who you truly are.

I warmheartedly invite you to have a look here. That’s a book that I recently wrote on this very subject.

Closing thought:

To be named a Student is a title of honor.

While to be named a Follower (or a Fan) is rather an insult.

Until next time.

Be safe and remain alert.

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