When teachers are without their inner teachers, they teach what learning they got on the outside. It seemed like work to get it so they make students work to get it also. They apply metaphors of internalizing, assimilating and integrating -- because the learning came from outside the learner. The teachers are aware of risks of forgetting it, misconstruing it and misapplying the knowledge -- so they become control freaks to insure the quality of students' understanding. They focus on testing to address these risks. They make learning into a process of torment under pressure.
Teachers with inner teachers walk their talk. They can act congruently with what they are saying because it's internalized. Students can learn from the actions that speak louder or the words that send the same message. It's easy to practice what they preach because their conduct comes from the same place as their pronouncements.
Teachers without inner teachers look like hypocrites. They say one thing and do another. There's a troublesome disconnect between their cognitive understanding and their actions. They experience themselves to be "twice as smart as they act" and "knowing better than to do what they did". They are teaching what they need to learn and have yet to listen to their own advice. They are quick to point fingers at students and find no fault with themselves. They dread the possibility that students are learning more from how they are taught than what they are taught. They insist that students follow their advice and not their example.
Teachers with inner knowledge demonstrate amazing powers of recall. The knowing seems to be with them always. It occurred to them at a time it seemed immediately useful and is held as something worth remembering. The durability of insightful recollections adds to the joys of learning. They experience what they forget as divinely inspired, as freedom from excess trivia and as making room for more essential insights.
Teachers without inner teachers experience what they understand as "perishable inventory". They have problems with retention because what they learned seemed useless and forgettable at the time. Without refreshers and reviews, it can be gone forever. They see to it that students suffer the same problems by feeding their short term memories facts with no personal significance.
Most teachers are afraid to become inner directed and follow their conscience. They inner guidance calls into question their habitual use of textbooks, tests, formal instruction and superficial exercises. I've learned from my own inner teacher:
- Anything worth learning can be learned by reflection, but not taught to a learner depending on an instructor
- It's it not fun, don't do it but if it's fun to teach, it will be fun to learn and keep the feeling going into further explorations.
- The person who's supposed to give the test is using the new idea and putting it to the test to see if it really works
- What we learning by doing it will give us the right idea and what we learn by memorizing it will send us off in the wrong direction
- The best thing to do for learners is be someone who is also learning, reflecting on what happens, exploring new questions and apply knowledge to new challenges.