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2davidc8's avatar

Who said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"?

Asked by 2davidc8 (9785points) July 13th, 2012

As asked above.

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13 Answers

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elbanditoroso's avatar

My fourth grade teacher, who was sort of demure and shy.

Seriously, I believe that this statement has many variants. If I am not mistaken, there is some similar sort of thing in the Talmud (or for students studying the Talmud), there is something in the ancient Greek writings – perhaps Plato – that said pretty much the same thing.

I don’t believe that this is attributable to one person or another; it’s an ageless concept.

thorninmud's avatar

I’ve heard it used mostly in a Buddhist context, but I’m pretty sure we can rule out the Buddha as the source. Everything he is supposed to have said has been meticulously cataloged, so these were his words there would be no question about its provenance.

Likely, this is just another of the gajillions of orphaned maxims that the Zen tradition has spawned.

linguaphile's avatar

Even if it’s not from Buddha, I believe it’s true, very true. At least, it has been true in my life.

I also like its far, far cousin, thrice removed: When the Jelly is ready…. Fluther will appear!

gailcalled's avatar

Milo here; I did. That is why I showed up at Gail’s doorstep. She was finally ready.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is a nice sounding phrase, but I am having trouble making sense of it. Could someone, other than Milo, give an example of how this works?

thorninmud's avatar

@LostInParadise First, tell Milo you’re sorry

As it’s used in Zen, it means that when one becomes a true student, everything is revealed to be a teacher. To be a true student is to be open, questioning, and receptive. In that state, “the words of the sages are written on the tips of the myriad grasses”, to quote Ling Zhao.

LostInParadise's avatar

Thanks, that it sense now. That is a somewhat non-standard use of the word “teacher.”

2davidc8's avatar

Thank you all for the discussion above, fellow jellies! I have always taken the quote to mean that you can only teach someone who is ready, willing and able to learn (and open to the idea of learning about whatever the subject at issue is). Otherwise, it is a waste of time for the teacher.

From the point of view of an individual, if one is ready and motivated to learn about something, then suddenly you can find all sorts of sources of information, including a Fluther of jellies, who can teach you. But until then, you are essentially blind and deaf to the topic.

However, I never knew who was the first person that said it that way. Interesting quote, @thorninmud.

linguaphile's avatar

I don’t see teachers as only people, but moments, experiences, introspection, lessons—anything can be a ‘teacher.’

One of my most enlightening moments came from a night on a lake, watching the stars and realizing they were reflected on the water. The lesson I gleaned from that was that a change of perspective can make something as far away as stars accessible.

I also take the quote to mean that life will give you the lessons you need at the moment, but it’s up to you to be open enough to learn from them.

2davidc8's avatar

@linguaphile I guess the point is, you have to be receptive. But a thought just occurred to me. Could this also mean that punishment is ineffective? If the person refuses to learn, you cannot punish him/her into learning. Thoughts?

LostInParadise's avatar

You hit on an interesting aspect of education. Learning is always an active process. You cannot put ideas into someone’s head. Learning involves the assimilation of new material with what the person already knows.

What is the best way to accomplish this? We unfortunately do not know the answer to that question, but there are some things that we do know. It helps to deliberately relate what is being taught to what the student presumably knows already. It helps if what is being taught can be made relevant to a the learner’s life so as to provide motivation. Some amount of routine homework can help in the learning construction process, but too much will discourage it. Challenging or open ended assignments encourage the student to find connections on his/her own.

There is an old joke among teachers that tells how the parents of a student doing well in school will talk about how bright the child is while the parents of a student who is not doing well will complain about how bad the teacher is.

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