There is no such thing as a student, and there is no such thing as a teacher. Those are only roles we play, depending on how our attention is directed.
I had the experience today of having some wisdom dropped at my feet. It came in the form of an unexpected phone call. It came to me as an interruption, because it served my friend, somehow, to bestow it.
And this is a very wise friend. I am often grateful for the things I’m able to learn from him. Sometimes I learn from what he tells me; more often I learn from what he shows me. But thinking about this experience today, I noticed that it was not helpful to me to be “given” wisdom in this way, and that it didn’t honor who I am, or my process.
The lack of attention toward where my attention was at the moment really got my attention, so to speak, and I began to think about why it is that sometimes those little bits of wisdom seem so unhelpful, and at other times they are just delicious.
What I’m seeing is that I am playing the role of student when the spark of curiosity is lit in me, when I’m filled with interest, even hunger for understanding. It’s then that I’m most able to learn.
When, then, am I playing the role of teacher? That’s harder. I think I will choose to play the role of teacher only after I’m in a state of connection with someone whose curiosity is infectious, and I’m sensing, in the moment, that they’re inviting me to help them discover something.
I wonder if more attention to this can shed some light on how it is that school fails to serve so many of our kids?