Student / Teacher Relationships – Learning And Growth Opportunities In Spiritual Traditions

Student/Teacher DynamicsTeachers Learn And Students Teach

I am a teacher; I am also a student. One can be either, but should be both. Good teachers constantly learn; good students constantly teach. The teacher / student relationship is one of balance and shared responsibility. As a teacher / student of a new and growing spiritual tradition, I find myself caught up in questions regarding just how I fit into the overall process of growth for individuals (including myself) who are working this path.

Questions Provide Opportunities To Both Teach And Learn

When I explain ideas and concepts to others, I clarify my own understanding of them. When others question me, I question myself and in finding my own answers I grow more certain of my path and of my work.

A Good Teacher Is Aware Of Their Limitations

I am a good teacher because I know that I can never know it all; because I know that there will always be things that I can learn from others; and, because I understand that perspective (and therefore learning) is merely a matter of approach (where we are coming from within our own individual processes) and/or placement (where we are right now). When the light fails to illuminate the concept on DC, try AC.

A Good Student Is A Passionate Learner

I am a good student because my desire to learn is fierce like the heat at the core of a blue-white star. I consume knowledge and seek it everywhere in every aspect of my existence. I realize I will never know it all, but that will not stop me from trying to learn as much as I can in my lifetime.

Learning Has A Practical Component

Additionally, I seek practical knowledge. I have been a student of theory for nothing other than theory’s sake and I didn’t like it. Give me a theory that I understand and then set me free to apply it. To me, successfully applied theory that gives results is the greatest possible outcome of learning.

True Learning Requires Honesty With Self And Others

Teachers and students must be honest. No learning, no true growth can be founded upon lies. Dishonesty with the Self is no basis for any truly successful path of self actualization. It is impossible to change those things that we deny exist. Honesty with one’s Self as well as with others is a critical factor in a good teacher / student relationship. From a foundation built upon truth, great and wonderful growth can be accomplished.

Learning And Teaching Form A Continuous Spiral Of Knowledge

There is no end to any path of learning for it leads to teaching which in turn leads once again to learning and so on in a continuous spiral of knowledge. So I learn… so what? Am I merely a pit into which knowledge is tossed? If I attain great knowledge but have no purpose for it, how can I complete the pattern and balance the energy I have used in the attainment of such knowledge?

Nothing Is Static

I must teach or admit my failure to maintain the balance of my existence. I must learn or I will ossify and die. Nothing is static. To finalize my definitions and my process is to stop the coursing of the blood of life through my veins. There can be no greater career than that of the teacher / student – for in every aspect of our lives, this relationship provides the basis for our growth and development.

New Responsibilities Often Raise Questions Of Competence

I participated in a ritual this past summer [1990] in which I invoked the Goddess and then had individual interactions with each of the ritual’s participants. There were over 60 of them and I was worried that I would not be able to provide so many individuals with what was needed.

Sometimes We Are Both The Teacher And The Student In The Same Moment

The ritual lasted almost five hours and my invocation was effective for the Goddess did speak to each participant and the results (as told to me later) were very effective. She, who was also me, was a good teacher, but afterwards I found that I had also learned a great deal. Many of the things that were said to the participants were also being “said” to me. In part, I was teaching myself via messages from my Higher Self.

Be Open To Learning From Many Sources

I also learned from each of the participants as they shared a part of themselves with me who was She. I had not expected the results to be so profound, but the experience remains fresh in my memory and a constant reminder of the power of shared interaction and knowledge.

Too Much Learning Creates An Energetic Imbalance

I am translating this knowledge into the overall definition of my responsibilities as a member of my spiritual community. I perceive myself as a student, but I have progressed further than most of the other students for I have been studying longer. I sense an imbalance and an internal pressure to teach – as both a way to address the imbalance and as another method of learning.

Fear Is Best Dealt With By Facing Its Source

I am struggling with this because, although I feel the imbalance, I sometimes doubt that I am qualified to teach. It is a fear not grounded in fact. Logically, I know that I am ready – but the fear, probably of “failure”, remains. As with most fears, it is best dealt with by facing its source. Therefore, I will teach; and, in teaching, learn; and, in facing my fears, change my world. This is my path and my process.

Learning Helps Us Grow And Change

I am new; because I remake my Self with each new moment, with each new experience. I am not who I was last year, last month, last week – even yesterday. I am who I am becoming. And through all this, both within and without, I am a teacher / student of my world, of my life, and of my Self.

Even 20 Years Later, These Truths Remain

I wrote this over 20 years ago. And yet some things are as true today as they were then. I still must face my own fears when undertaking new responsibilities. I am still dedicated to learning and teaching. I still am in awe of what I learn from the people I work with (because calling them “students” does not even begin to encompass the richness of these relationships). And I still hold honesty and integrity as exceptionally important values for effective transformational work.

Share Your Own Wisdom With Others

Are you a teacher? And a student? What insights do you have about these roles in your life? Please join the conversation.


The preceding was originally published in Mezlim magazine and is reprinted here with permission of the author, Kathy Scheiern.


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