The Five Ws of Teaching

DSCF5541I have never thought of myself as a teacher. Whether it came to reporting a topic in class, participating in student’s takeover day in high school or simply teaching choreography for a dance, I knew that I was not the most ideal person for the job. No matter the setting, whether classroom or the “real world,” I always preferred to be the student.

Just recently however, I was able to see and experience a new perspective of teaching that allowed me to gain a better appreciation for it. WYA Asia Pacific just had its third and last Sulong Workshop session for the year. The Sulong Workshop is an avenue for WYAAP members to teach the Track A Training in simpler terms. We interact with teens from the organization we choose to partner with for the year and we teach them about human dignity, freedom, and solidarity to help them get a better understanding of it. This year, we partnered with SOS Children’s Village Philippines which is a private, non-political, international organization that provides long-term family-based care and education to children in need. It houses abandoned and orphaned children and builds an environment that will help them shape their own future.

When I was preparing for this project, I did not really think about the impact it would have on the students. I was focused on making the module and preparing the activities so that come project day, the program would run smoothly and the facilitators would be able to teach properly. What I did not expect was to learn and realize so much from the people that I met in SOS Village. The students’ enthusiasm and insights moved me and made me realize how important this workshop was and how relevant the topic of solidarity was to them. Hearing them share their experiences and give their personal understanding of the concepts discussed was enlightening and it allowed me to reflect and re-evaluate my idea of teaching.

There is something beautiful about teaching that can only be understood by those that have experienced it. Assuming a different position in the classroom setting was challenging but I was able to get a better perspective of teaching through engaging myself in the activities.

This realization has brought me to come up with my own 5 W’s of teaching. This who, what, where, when, and why guide on teaching is my attempt to give a clearer vision of what teaching is all about  and my chance to give a personal  touch on an insight that I hope to share with you.

Who: Teaching is about people. The things being taught or discussed are not what is most crucial in teaching but the value the lesson brings to the learner. We can be talking about the most complex to the most mundane concepts but if what is being learned is not up for reflection by the individual or if it is not significant to the person then teaching loses its meaning.

What: Teaching is about sharing. It is about realizing that we all have something valuable that we want to contribute to the world and we do this through communicating with others. When we teach, we talk about our ideas, principles, and talents and we share a part of ourselves with others so that we can learn from them and allow them to make an impact in our lives as well.

Where: We can teach everywhere. No matter the setting, whether among our group of friends, in our communities, or to an even larger audience, there is always an avenue to teach. We can choose to teach the less fortunate, post our learnings and opinions online for our followers, or simply offering words of wisdom to a stranger or acquaintance. Teaching can happen in our own homes as much as it can take place across borders.

When: We never stop teaching. We have all gone through different experiences and we have each had our own handful of challenges that we had to overcome. Because of this, we will never run out of inputs that we can share with others and we can use our insights to give our own takes on life.

Why: We teach to learn. It is a known fact that the knowledge we have at present will never be sufficient for us. As human beings, we always find the need to access more information and to learn new things. Through teaching, we get a better understanding of the world and what it has to offer and it allows us speak about what we know while opening ourselves up to learn more.

I came out of my first Sulong Workshop project feeling more inspired than I have ever been. I brought with me the realization that teaching is one of the most powerful tools that man can use. In teaching, we can see how a person’s efforts contribute to the overall development of others and it gives us the opportunity to work together towards a better vision for society.

By Valerie Ypil, a current regional intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office.