Why I love to teach even I am not really good at

One thing that I do enjoy in my job is teaching. No, I don’t believe I can really do my job without teaching ! My personal reason is simple, when I do teach, I contribute to next generation scientists and engineers in good way. It is not just about delivering engineering contents like machine learning, C++ or algorithm, but to me, to inspire. Sounds like a big leadership word – inspire. Yes, it is. When I was student long time back, I could see what happened to me once inspired by Professors. I will do hard, more than it normally takes to understand more. Learning happen when students got really inspired to learn.  Well-thought words coming from inspiring Professors will go directly to our brain – set it permanently for long time.

When I was in University lab – back in 1995-2000, we have a learning culture to teach each other. We learn something together in the lab and each one of us can become teacher and student. It was interested. Sometime, we think we do understand something, but we can’t teach to other people. It may because our understanding is too shallow, or we don’t really understand it. Take for example, all of us understand banana. We can explain banana very well to our kids without any preparation even without slides. But can we explain concept of energy as good as banana? Maybe not. So, for me the best way to test my understanding is to teach it to others and ask if they understand it well. To test whether we don’t know, partially know or know a concept. You’ll be surprised with question they ask or maybe being intimidated if they don’t. The fact is, profound question from inspired students is always valuable. It is often source of ideas or new research for me.

Creativity and ideas need triggers. In any thinking process there are moments when everything is not smooth, blank and I don’t have any ideas. Teaching is a good relaxation for me to switch back into the thinking rhythm. Relax when I have nothing more critical to do. Yes, at least I do something while I have no more important ideas to do. Or at least I can say, I am teaching new hires and contributing to prepare them. Beyond all of it, I am thinking when I am teaching, as I want the students to understand what I explain from their current state. I was explained concept of object and pointer in C++ yesterday and I had to choose the most precise words instead of useless analogies. I do it carefully as I know the impact of a shallow understanding. The bonus is, usually I can think something new or find new way to look/explain same thing.

I think I am not really good in teaching. I never ask the students how they think of me, as I’m not really care or maybe afraid to hear the answer. Somehow I still think I am not a good teacher, but I enjoy teaching. In fact, I have accepted (or even created) jobs in IT industry that allows me to keep teaching. With that I hope I can say, I love to teach even I am not really good at.

TSMRA, Jakarta, March 2016.

Risman Adnan
A simple geek who loves codes and creating software.

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