Many years ago I remember teaching a class where one attendee asked “are you going to teach us everything you know?” Can I teach you everything I know? There is quite a question.
I didn’t think much about it at the time but do recall my response was less than satisfactory, causing me to think about that question much over the years. I am currently preparing a course for a client and of course the question about teaching everything I know keeps rebounding in my brain. Teaching everything I know is quite a challenge. I have often asked myself whether it is possible. What do you think?
Is it Possible to Teach Everything I Know?
The answer is surely a simple “no!” There are very good reasons the answer is no. To learn everything I know you must have:
- Similar experiences.
- Almost identical knowledge.
- The same approach to work.
- Similar hopes and dreams; and
- probably worked for the same organisations I did.
It is surely impossible for you to know everything I do, or have experienced the same things. Besides, I will learn something from the experience of teaching you. Every person will learn according to their past experiences. Two people learning the same material will assimilate it very differently.
Different Experiences, Different Goals, Common Ground
The fact that two people have different experiences, different desires etc. means that they will approach a common problem in a slightly different way. There are few things we do in life where there is only one method to get the job done, it is like opening a door — the handle can be on the left or the right side. It may be twisted left or right. Each works well, but sometimes the right opening doorway is simply wrong as it blocks the path for its user.
With most processes we perform there are more than two ways to achieve the same result. Mary’s preference for method A is no more or less valid than John’s preference for method B. Because Mary and John perform the same action differently they have different experiences however they will achieve the same result. Their logic for each course of action cannot be faulted either.
Because of these slight differences in approach it is clearly difficult for me to teach you everything I know because you will approach specific problems differently than I do. This is true even though we are working on common goals.
Time/Space Conquers All
It stands to reason that it will take both time and space to teach everything I know. When writing an article with 1,000 words it stands to reason that I cannot put everything I know about even the most precise subject into that single contribution. The same would be true even for 10,000, or even 500,000 words to put it all into writing or even two hundred years in which to teach it.
The same can be true of time. In bygone days when a master would take on a student and teach them over their lifetime they could still not impart all their knowledge. This was so for Plato and the things he learned from Socrates, or what Plato passed on to his pupils through his life. Plato would have also learned independent of his master.
People live finite lives which of course makes it impossible for me to teach anyone everything I know.