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Sunday, May 20, 2012

If you teach a man how to fish

Today is the last day I'll be tutoring one of my students and my third to last day for tutoring all together. After this week, I'll be too busy getting ready for medical school or on a different continent.

Teachers/tutors always look back on their interactions with their students with the fondest memories. I am no different. I am glad to have had the opportunity to have built friendships with these kids. They say crazy things and make me laugh with their honesty. Our conversations have changed from purely about academic to more personal exchanges. This and their improved testing scores are my two biggest accomplishments. I couldn't be prouder to have worked with such great people.

But what teachers and tutors sometimes neglect to mention (with sincerity) is how much they have learned during their teaching experience. Even tutoring the SATs - a test I will never have to take again - I have learned useful skills. I have learned from them  humility and the art of the explanation. They have pointed out my errors, my misspoken words with tact and grace and challenged me to provide clearer and better answers. Really, they are better than any college level communications course.

I imagine academic medicine must be invigorating for the same reason. I bet the attendings at a teaching hospital know about this little secret - teaching is not for those who CAN'T do, but those who can do even BETTER. Teaching reaffirms skill sets and provides introduction to novel ideas. It is the student's unclouded and sometimes straightforward thinking that allows the teacher to see things in a new light. They say that the mother of invention is asking the right questions. Who can we rely more on to ask questions than students?

I hope that I can work in an academic setting one day. I want to teach, and, more importantly, to learn.

So here's to all the students that I have had the pleasure to teach! Thank you.

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