I was forced to face another fear today – demonstrating a computer-based practical for 4th year undergrads. I really didn’t feel like I understood the subject well enough to do it. What I learnt is the following.

  • When you don’t understand something, it’s not necessarily because you’re stupid, but could be because it’s actually quite hard.
  • Admitting this and asking for help is essential. God, I wish I had asked for help more in life. When you ask for help, you generally get it, without judgment. Duh.
  • The effect of getting help can be dramatic, psychologically.
  • Even 4th year students do not like asking for help. I guess we all have that fear of looking like an idiot. They will sometimes consult wikipedia before they consult the demonstrator.
  • Being in a role where I’m able to give help, I can see how much easier the students would make life for themselves if they asked for help. That is, as long as they can understand the help they’re given.
  • I actually quite enjoyed giving help. And I thought, you know what, maybe I do have something to offer in this type of situation. Maybe the fact that I need stuff broken down to simplicity means I’m in a good position to help others who need the same thing.
  • There is no need to pretend to be anything other than I am. I am just another learner sharing a perspective on what I’ve just learnt, and that’s OK for them.

2 responses »

  1. Wow – excellent thoughts. I'm glad you shared them. As a person who really struggled with public speaking and being put in positions where the spotlight was on me or even where there was some big responsibility that I didn't feel I could live up to…well, I enjoyed reading your perspective.I think that it is a huge mistake that many of us make to think that we are not worthy to take up peoples time or impart knowledge in certain situations. While the reality is that you, no doubt, have a huge knowledgebase behind you…you may not realise it. The other thing which you mentioned is that sometimes things are complicated, yes I agree, and so it's not a reflection on how good,or great, you are if you don't understand or don't know something. I've heard the Dalai Lama speak a few times. Now, there is a man who has been studying people and psychology all his life yet sometimes he just says "I don't know". He does not carry the expectation that she ''should'' know. It is hard as a student too, to put your hand up and ask for help…): I can relate.

  2. Thanks Ms M. I thought I should put this down in writing, so that hopefully in future I will remember it! It could really make a huge difference for me if I stopped seeing everything difficult as being a failure on my part and something I must deal with alone.

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