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Below is a quote from George Macdonald's There and Back. The context is England in the mid 1800's. A country parson (Mr. Wingfold) is tutoring a young woman (Barbara) who lives in his parish.

"Wingfold set himself to keep Barbara busy, giving her plenty to read and plenty of work... Among other things, he set her to teach his boy where she thought herself much to ignorant: he held, not only that to teach is the best way to learn, but that the imperfect are the best teachers of the imperfect... When a man, he said, agonized to get into other hearts the thing dear to his own, the false intellectual or even moral forms in which his ignorance and the crudity of his understanding compelled him to embody it, would not render its truth of none effect, but might, on the contrary, make its reception possible where a truer presentation would stick fast in the door-way."

We would all agree, I'm sure, that teaching is an invaluable way to learn. But what about the imperfect are the best teachers of the imperfect.

Question: In what sense can an imperfect teacher be the best teacher of an imperfect student? Is it a teacher who admits that they don't know it all, they don't have all the answers, but nevertheless they are willing to learn with their students? 

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I love this question so much. I think what you said "Is it a teacher who admits that they don't know it all, they don't have all the answers, but nevertheless they are willing to learn with their students?" is a huge part of it. In addition, as I reflect on my own teaching, I notice that because I am imperfect and am acquainted with suffering and repentance. Therefore, I can externalize that process for my students, for my children. I think all learning is a form of repentance in one way or another and involves a certain amount of suffering or struggle.  It makes me think of what Virgil was to Dante.

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14 hours ago, Jennifer Dow said:

I think all learning is a form of repentance in one way or another and involves a certain amount of suffering or struggle. 

Yes, I think what you are touching on, Jennifer, is the importance of humility and, perhaps even closer, that of empathy.

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15 hours ago, Jennifer Dow said:

I think all learning is a form of repentance in one way or another and involves a certain amount of suffering or struggle.

This not only applies to teachers but also to physicians, i.e., the best doctors are the "wounded healers', the ones who have themselves struggled and suffered through illness.

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It's an interesting idea to contemplate. Master-teachers are less likely to teach error, whereas an amateur teachers could fall into conveying something false. Amateurs would be more humble about their leading of lessons, having to learn along with their students. Jesus became like man, even though he is Master. 

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On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 4:05 PM, Cheryl Floyd said:

Master-teachers are less likely to teach error, whereas an amateur teachers could fall into conveying something false.

Jesus certainly was the master teacher, who taught timeless truths via parables and showing his disciple/students the way by asking penetrating questions. I also have concerns about  imperfect teachers getting carried away by "strange and diverse teachings" (which abound on the internet) and dress them up in "intellectual and moral forms". Students do not typically feel free to question such teachers, and if the teacher operates in isolation, their doctrines remain unchallenged. This of course is another reminder that education is all about relationships.

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On 1/3/2019 at 9:18 AM, Donald Hess said:

Yes, I think what you are touching on, Jennifer, is the importance of humility and, perhaps even closer, that of empathy.

I love how you are touching on empathy. I have been researching several things that keep me coming back to empathy. I think this is a topic we need to think more about as teachers. 

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