David's Reflection on Teaching

I remember when my family and I hiked up Mount Olympus in Greece with a guide named Apostoli. On the first day, the path was not steep, but it was long, and Apostoli coached us along, encouraging proper rests and guidance up the winding path.

However, on the second day, the path narrowed between a cliff and a steep drop. It had been shaped and widened by those who had climbed the mountain before us; it was built by their bravery, sweat, and sometimes their lives. One bad step could lead to danger—or death. 

Thankfully, Apostoli knew the mountain well and kept us safe.

We try to do things the right way. That usually means doing things the long, hard, stupid way. 

- David Chang, chef/founder, momofuku

When we learn, we can go on our own, taking “the long, hard, stupid way” and still manage to succeed. Yet there are plenty of loose rocks that could slide from beneath our feet and make the journey a lot more difficult. 

A great teacher is our guide up the mountain. A guide doesn’t destroy passion or penalize effort but rather promotes care and craftsmanship. A guide rewards resilience, hard work, and continuous improvement.  Most importantly, a guide challenges students to push further and higher than they ever thought themselves capable.

I believe:

  1. Theory is important, but the best path for a writer is PRACTICE. Students need to be encouraged to get the words on the page.
  2. The path to understanding is unique for each student. A teacher must display EMPATHY and consider multiple solutions to learning.
  3. CLEAR COMMUNICATION of rules and expectations eliminates confusion and promotes care and craftsmanship whether in study or practice.
  4. Students should be encouraged towards CONTINUOUS LEARNING long after the class is finished and a teacher should offer any tools that might help their progress.