My unlikely, unplanned journey to becoming a world-class teacher.
(This is not a blog. It’s a codex – raw, unpolished and brutally frank)
Let’s get 3 things out of the way first.
- I never planned to be a teacher, never thought it would be one of my careers, and wasn’t good at it as a child. It was not god’s gift nor a hobby.
- It’s surprising to me that I’m now regarded as a world-class teacher. Now only have I personally taught people on 4 continents, many more have read my essays and tutorials, etc.
- I have however found more success as a teacher than in all my previous roles – sales, marketing, systems engineering, software development, machine learning R&D, and whatnot.
So how did it happen? Was it an accident?
My real “gift” is not teaching. It’s in cinema and storytelling. I knew I wanted to make movies and TV shows since I was a small kid.
I obsess over the best way to tell stories visually – how to draw people into it, how to create empathy, how to hold people’s attention so tightly that they can’t look away.
On the other hand, I’ve also never been a sophisticated thinker. I like to understand things from the big picture and then go deep. I’m not that smart either – math was my most hated subject in school because I couldn’t relate it to anything in my life. But I did enjoy Physics though.
As a filmmaker, you’re always switching from the macro (how and where is the story flowing?) to the micro (how should I compose these 10 seconds in a way that evokes X, Y and Z emotions?).
Students are an audience. As a teacher, your job is to sell a story.
Whenever I have to write or make a presentation, I get fired up. It’s like a drug-induced state of pristine focus. I can’t snap myself out of it. And that’s why I know that writing is my “safe place,” where I can always find solace when everything else is chaotic. (The same applies to language learning.)