“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

The power of teaching

In February at Interaction 09 | Vancouver, Kim Goodwin’s closing keynote entitled “Each One, Teach One” (video) urged us all to take on the role of teaching as part of our practice.

I’d like to agree in triplicate.

My first experience as a teacher began when I was in college. The summer between my 1st & 2nd years I was a camp counselor and then my entire second year I was both a religious school leader and Zionist evangelist. Both roles started me on the path that I’m on today as a teacher. I’m currently a professor of Interaction Design at the Savannah College of Art & Design.

I guess I’ve always been drawn to teaching. After college I taught English as a 2nd Language in Israel and returned to the states with the goal of becoming a professor of Anthropology (never did finish that!).

The Internet also gave me moments of teaching (not just mentoring) very early on. I taught designers how to think about pixels and taught coders how to think about design very early on in my career.

As I said, I’m now a teacher as my primary profession. I love it. It is really the best career move I’ve made in a very long time.

So what makes teaching so special and why should you care. I agree with Kim that teaching is something that everyone should do. It is the best way I have experienced for honing my ideas and finding ways to communicate my ideas. It is also a great way to get instant feedback on your most out there ideas.

What I would add to this is that it is even more powerful to teach to those outside of your usual zones. For me this week I taught interaction design to high school students.

1) you so have to loose the jargon

2) you have to be clear in a whole new way. You can’t presume any pre-knowledge on the topic

3) you need to find new ways to make the material engaging or otherwise alive. This means learning new metaphors or references.

I have taught internationally, to different market segments and now to different age groups. The more you go outside your range the more you really have to push yourself as a teacher and your ideas that you are teaching.

Get out there and TEACH!

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