As a kid I used to get so excited when my Grandparents would come to visit. They lived in another state from us so it wasn’t that often that they came out to see us. My Grandpa would go on walks with me on the trails in the woods and I loved walking with him and having him tell me fun stories. One day in particular when I was around 7 or 8 years old we were walking on the trail and I was chewing a big piece of bubble gum and enjoying it very much…apparently I was enjoying it quite loudly because suddenly my Grandfather stopped and looked at me and said:
“A gum chewing girl,
A cud chewing cow,
There is a difference we must allow.
What is it?
Oh yes, I have it now,
The thoughtful look on the face of the cow.”
We both had a good laugh at his poem and then I took the gum from my mouth and threw it away. Truth is I hadn’t realized that I was chomping my gum and quite frankly I had been clueless at how awful it looked and sounded to someone else as they watched you chewing a big wad of bubble gum. But the poem Grandpa taught did a great job of painting a visual image for me, and he did it in a fun way that didn’t hurt my feelings at all. And together on the rest that walk I had Grandpa help me memorize the poem and I have never forgotten it to this day.
The way my Grandfather handled teaching me something in that moment was masterful. He had found a way to paint a visual picture for me of just how silly I looked chomping my gum the way I had been. When someone can help us to visualize things and relate it to something we are familiar with it helps us to grasp concepts so much easier. In addition he did it in a fun and catchy way that made me giggle rather than hurting my feelings. When we teach people in a way as to make it fun or entertaining or enjoyable, the chances of them hearing us and retaining what we teach is significantly higher. Finally he made sure I knew he cared about me and he was teaching me something that he felt would make me a better person and I felt that, which is why my walls didn’t go up and I didn’t get on the defensive. If we are willing to let others feel how much we care our chances of getting through to them go up tenfold.
My Grandpa passed away years ago but the things he taught me live on and I am grateful that he taught me how to teach others through his example:
- Help them to visualize or relate to the new concept you are teaching.
- Make it fun and entertaining and catchy so they pay attention and retain it.
- Let them feel that you care and you are invested in helping them improve for their own benefit.
It’s going to be a fantastic week 🙂
~Amy Rees Anderson