Teaching vs Consulting

Teaching vs Consulting

This week I’ve been visiting my parents. I decided to attend a local Kung Fu class (I’ve been learning Kung Fu myself for the last couple of years).

The teacher was clearly extremely competent. His biography points out that he started training in China aged six, then joined a Shaolin Monastery aged eight. Now, you can’t beat that for pedigree in Kung Fu terms. As well, in conversation, he demonstrated a few things that showed he clearly knew his stuff.

Yet, coming away from the class, I felt something wasn’t quite right. It took me a little while to put my finger on it, and it points to a crucial point when helping others learn something.

Despite all his years of training, what he did was showed me what he knew. I got to see that he knew it, but I didn’t get any sense of what it felt like for me. The natural consequence of this was that I felt subtly inadequate. I’m not as good as him. He’s better than me. This is extremely common (in fact, I’d say it is the norm) in teaching situations of any kind. The teacher tells you what they know, and you are somehow supposed to come to where they are to get it.

I call this “teaching”. There’s another way, which I call “consulting”. When I have consulted, particularly in IT situations, I head into my client’s office, and I ask them what they want to know. Then, I enter their world, and I use my depth of experience to share with them exactly what they need to know in that moment. What I share enhances their immediate experience - they learn something that has meaning to them.

Contrast this to teaching. In teaching I say to the student, “come into my world, listen to me talk, then work out for yourself how it is relevant to you”.

For all teaching, but particularly for the Odoki Method, consulting is crucial. We need to step into the world of our client, and respond to that. We may have our own ideas of where we want to guide them, but if that doesn’t line up with the experience the client is describing, we have no choice but to discard it and simply listen and respond to what the client is sharing.

This is so important that it is imperative that I find ways to help people understand this as people learn to share the Odoki Method.

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