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Inspired Teaching: Tool for Transformation and Healing

by Rick Thorn(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 113 - July 2005

It may not seem obvious why there is an article on teaching in a magazine devoted to health issues. The answer to this question is twofold: first, many of you reading this magazine may be involved in some sort of teaching or providing training as practitioners. Secondly, if we are to transform the health of people, then education has a fundamental role to play, whether it be teaching some form of health education or working in one-to-one situations. The lessons here are as much about teaching in the traditional sense as they are about inspired communication in our everyday life and work.

Having personally experienced both serious mental health problems and cancer in my life, both of which are now healed, I saw in those who looked after me and treated me very different ways of communicating, of teaching me about my health issues and what I could do about them. In many cases it was not inspirational, helpful or positive. So although I talk about teaching and students, it is important that you read this article again, changing those words to 'healer' and 'client' respectively.

At its best, teaching can transform people's lives, giving them access to new information, skills, options, dreams, aspirations and a way of making new dreams come true. At worst, teaching is a tool to ensure that dreams, aspirations, goals and options are limited and diminished until they are non-existent. Bad teaching can ruin people; good teaching can help people. Inspired teaching can transform people. In this article I want to look at four things that anyone who teaches, or wants to teach, can do to ensure that what we teach and how we teach can be even more powerful and transformational.

Being an Expert

Although this may seem very obvious, teachers (and practitioners) need is to know their subject and be experts. People pay to come on our courses because, as teachers, we know something or can do something that others want to learn. Being an expert does not mean that we know everything; indeed it actually means that we have to be constant learners. Fundamental to being an inspired teacher is that we continue to be inspired students. We will never know everything, and if we are constantly learning, then we will still be passionate about what it is we teach. But more than this, we owe it to our students and course participants to constantly improve our own knowledge of what we teach. Expertise is as much about knowing what more there is to learn as it is acknowledging what we already know.

So often, because we are good at what we do, we are asked to teach others. We may be great healers or experts in personal development, but the decision to teach means getting the timing right. Are we ready to teach? When we feel we know our subjects or areas of expertise in enough depth, and with enough confidence to share it with others, then the time is right.

Acknowledging our Expertise

Although we may be an expert, actually acknowledging this can be quite difficult. None of us want to appear arrogant or big-headed, but it is important to acknowledge the expertise we have if we want to be inspired teachers and healers. Acknowledging our expertise, providing we actually do have some, is not about being big-headed, and it is never about being the sort of teacher that has power over their students. Acknowledging our expertise is acknowledging both our gifts and talents, and the work we have put in to develop them. We need to acknowledge our expertise as a gift, and a gift to share with others. The only power we need to have to be inspired teachers is power with our students or our clients.

Acknowledging our expertise should be seen, not as an egotistical statement, but rather as an act of humility. Teaching is always about focusing on other people, so to acknowledge our expertise, and sharing it with others allows our grandeur and our unconditional power to show through. As practitioners these first two ideas combine in a powerful way, for if it is clear that we know our subjects and are at ease with our expertise, then this will inspire confidence in those we work with, be that through teaching or in a one-to-one situation.

Think Student: the Heart of Inspired Teaching

The simple idea, which is at the very heart of inspired teaching, is to think student. When most people are asked to teach something, they know that the next step is to work out what they are going to teach. A perfectly logical step. The next thing people tend to do is ask themselves the following type of question: "so what do I want to teach the people coming to my course?"

Now this may seem the logical thing to do, but to put it bluntly it is the worst thing any teacher could do. The mental shift we need to make is to always THINK STUDENT. This means that we have to start thinking from the students' perspective, and start asking ourselves what our students need to know, learn, understand, or be able to do. This may seem odd at first, and some of you may not like the idea, but I can assure you many potentially great courses (and I have seen quite a few in the work I do) are far less effective than they could be because the teachers have tended to think from their perspective, and only in terms of what it is they want to teach.

To 'think student' and to aim to be an inspired teacher is about sharing our power and expertise in an effective way, and to be effective means to create a space and an environment in which our students truly learn.

Everything about teaching, from planning a course or workshop to the advertising, from the use of resources to how to teach particular topics, will be enhanced when we come from a 'think student' perspective. In short, whenever you are planning any sort of teaching you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1 – Does this help my students' learning?
2 – In what ways does this help my students' learning?

The answers to these questions will begin to show you how effective your teaching can be, and if you can't answer these questions then you need to think again about what you are doing. Again, remember to re-read this section changing the words 'teacher' and 'student' to 'healer/practitioner' and 'client'.

Passion and Enjoyment

The most inspiring teachers are always the most passionate. It is equally important to be passionate about your subject as well as about teaching itself. Your passion about your subject is the true qualification you need in order to properly teach what you know, but your passion for the process shows your students that you care about them and their learning. Inspired communication is the best way to help anyone learn more about their health and take positive steps to help themselves. When this comes through inspired teaching and communication people truly learn, and this gives them the tools to change their situation for the better.

Remember to enjoy and love what you do. Teaching can be tiring and stressful, and as teachers we are always very busy, so it is crucial that we remember to love and enjoy what we do – if we do that we can expect it in return from our students. Put simply, whatever your mood, get excited before you teach; you will have more fun and so will your students.

Teaching as a Tool for Healing and Transformation.

Inspired teaching, and therefore inspired communication, gives people new opportunities and shows them new possibilities. This is a healing act in itself, for it is often what we learn that gets us out of the problems we have. Inspired teaching can help people transform themselves, give them new ways of understanding themselves, their bodies, minds, spirits and their health, and give them new self-esteem.

To teach is a gift in itself, but when we teach in an inspired way we give our gifts to others, and that is both the gift of ourselves and the gift of what we know. This gift can truly transform the lives of others.

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About Rick Thorn

Rick Thorn is the Founder of Inspired Teaching, part of Inspired Ways. Fully trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming as a Master Practitioner, he also has extensive experience teaching personal and spiritual development workshops and in training therapists, counsellors and a wide range of healers and practitioners to teach. He inspires people to unleash the power in themselves and their material to transform others through teaching. He is available for one-to-one sessions, consultancy work as well as talks and workshops. He has come out with a CD on inspired teaching with bestselling author Nick Williams. He may be contacted via inspiredways@fsmail.net www.inspiredways.com

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