Many educators believe that teaching and learning are the same—two sides of the same coin. It’s because when we teach, we learn and when we learn, we teach.
For example, when you teach a math topic you know well, and then have students pick it up in different ways, we learn more about how we teach and add to our knowledge of how students learn math. It may sound obvious or simple, but it’s not.
To be a teacher-learner or a learner-teacher means to remain open to possibilities, to other ways of thinking, to other kinds of knowledge, even to be ready to grow in a way not yet known. You have to take risks, be creative and embrace problem solving.
Leonard Bernstein draws a good picture of this. While he studied piano as an advanced student, he also gave lessons to students who were beginners. As his career unfolded, his learning and teaching evolved into collaborations with some of the world’s greatest conductors and musicians. He famously mentored many younger musicians, and his close collaborations blurred the lines of teacher-learner even more.
Enjoy the great Bernstein discussing teaching and learning at :50 to 1:30. For a second treat, watch a teacher-learner in action from 41:35 to 43:30.