I remember having a friend who was very good in computer programming at a very early age. As he grew up so did his skill in programming. He then wanted to teach programming to his younger brother. He called me telling me with great frustration that he was completely baffled by his younger brother who resisted his repeated attempts to teach him computer programming. He said his younger brother was unable to do programming and failed to love it.
I tried to demystify the situation for my friend. I told him that he loved programming because he was good at it and that no one had attempted to shove it up his throughout. In contrast, his younger brother is forced to learn it and cannot see any merit in attempting it when his older brother, my friend, is so superior in programming to him. I believe also that the teaching methods my friend had been using were horrible to say the least.
I remember that this same friend of mine attempted, years later, to teach driving to an employee he had at his small software company. My friend called me complaining to me saying that that employee was very unready to learn driving and it was hopeless to attempt to teach him. My friend had been trying one time after the other to give him driving lessons but failed completely to teach him how to drive. In contrast to the first case of my friend attempting to teach programming to his unmotivated younger brother, the employee my friend was attempting to teach driving to was highly motivated and was actually eager to learn driving.
Again I told my friend that perhaps the failure was not due to the poor readiness of that employee but rather to the method he used in teaching him. My friend was unable to swallow this up about himself being the reason behind this failure to learn but then started to accept it as a possibility.
It is worth noting that years later this friend of mine started delivering programming courses at training centers and I believe he was good at it.
This shows that someone who is bad at teaching can improve with time and repeated practice. Good trainers, I believe, are made not born. Another lesson learnt from these two stories about my friend is that it takes a combination of high trainee motivation and trainer skill to create a successful and enjoyable learning experience.
What other lessons can you deduct from these stories of my friend and his attempts to teach others?