How Experts Should Teach

Most people who have expertise in an area do a horrible job in communicating with laypeople. They seem to want to lord their knowledge over the other person, and to continually try to impress them. Others don’t realize that not everyone knows everything they know. Please don’t be like this, rather, imagine yourself being in the other person’s shoes.

I will elaborate a bit and offer suggestions by using some examples. Just last night my mechanic shop responded to a text that I sent them the day before. My text had been asking if a part that I linked would work to fix a problem they said needed to be addressed on my truck. The text simply read, “Nope that’s a spring stop for the rear springs.” There was not a follow-up text saying that I needed a “Dual Overhead Megabyte Camshaft” or anything. It was as if the conversation was over, unless I wanted to continue guessing about the other 30,000 parts on my truck.

Using exact numbers is important. Telling a newbie to “hold it just above” is not useful because the newbie does not know if you mean 2 inches or 2 feet. Just as a spotter for a long range shooter should not say, “That impacted just off the left edge” neither should a carpenter ask a novice helper to “cut a little bit off the end.”

Only explain what is relevant to your student at the moment. The guy who just bought a cheap wire flux welder at Harbor Freight to learn the basics does not need to hear about the nitrogen mix you like in Trigg welding, it is confusing and harms the learning process. Having your ego stroked is perhaps important for your psychological health, but this should happen organically over time.

West of the Winds

By the way, who is an “expert?”

I think of it as a person who just sat down at the Wrangler Cafe, if they think about the 100 people nearest them at that moment, they probably know more abut a thing than anyone else of the 99. You are probably an expert in several areas, and so am I.

Article to be continued ….