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Why You Should Trust Your Gut When Teaching

If you find yourself entrusted with the education of someone else, you have probably demonstrated a solid knowledge of a subject. It is also likely that your experience and communication skills are evident when interacting with others. Teaching is not something that all people can do effectively, especially not something as intensive and specific as aviation.

Despite the mystique promoted by many institutions of higher learning, “book knowledge” can only go so far. It is very difficult for texts and diagrams to fully convey all that is necessary to understand a subject truly. They certainly cannot duplicate the real-world experience. A driver’s manual can describe everything about a city’s vehicle laws, but it can’t teach you how to manage the stress of operating a truck on a ruthlessly busy interstate. A parenting class can show you how to breathe during delivery, but it cannot accurately describe the level of fear and pain experienced during labor.

Gaps between knowledge and experience are bridged by excellent teachers. After studying all of the facts, taking tests, and learning theories on a subject, students still have questions. These remaining curiosities are where a teacher’s “gut feelings” and instincts become very valuable.

Instinct is a Driving Force


A person becomes a teacher for many reasons. One of them is intimately tied to how they first formed an interest in a particular field. Undoubtedly, their innate talents and dispositions lead them to an early interest in a discipline. If a young child discovers that they can recreate scenes on a piece of paper, they will probably be interested in drawing. If a teenager loves the “feel of the road” as he trains for his driver’s license, he might choose to explore auto design, engineering, or racing cars. Something already exists in a person’s mind and soul about a subject when they choose to specialize in it.

As a person is educated in a particular field, they add situational knowledge to that instinct. They learn concepts that help them to use instincts in practical ways. The person who likes to draw can learn historic art techniques that result in an individual painting style. The person who loves fast cars can learn combustion theory to become a world class mechanic. Who is it that facilitates this transition? Who leads a person to a place where they can realize innate talent? A teacher, a profession that isn’t very easy to do.

Not all teachers, however, are excellent at what they do. Any person who claims to be a teacher can regurgitate information from a book to the classroom. There is an old quip that says, “People who cannot do, teach!” This suggests that performance is preferred over instruction. It also makes the unfortunate claim that people actively engaged in an occupation should not teach. But this isn’t actually the case.

The best teachers are those who can synthesize innate interests and formal education both in themselves and in their students. The key is to access internal truths that cannot always be expressed in technical language. It is more of a feeling than a set of practical rules. This feeling is often referred to by mediums as intuition, and all good teachers possess and develop their ability to use it.

Where Intuition Becomes Extremely Valuable for Teachers and Students


It is interesting that intuition is cyclical when it comes to education. First, someone follows their instinct to pursue a subject. They spend years studying and rising to a level where knowledge becomes action. Finally, they enter an arena where the honing of an intuition is the ultimate prize. Such is the role of a teacher.

A teacher’s intuition can be the catalyst for discovering what is really holding a student back from achieving. Sometimes, a student knows that they have done every correct thing in learning a discipline, but find they still struggle with its application. Think about the following situations.

  • A medical student has perfect scores in class, but cannot relate well to living patients.
  • A piano performance major can play a concerto but has debilitating stage fright.
  • An aviation student understands all flight protocols, but cannot sense danger in the air.
  • A drafting student innovates amazing structures, but cannot complete a blueprint for production.

Yes, some problems can be caused by a deficiency in some part of their education. More likely, it is the lack of experience to counterbalance knowledge. This is where a teacher can use their own intuition to address problems facing students. Through intuition, a teacher recognizes underlying problems and can coach students through them. This is probably because they had similar problems in the past, and a former teacher helped them.

Again, intuition that bolsters teaching is something that cannot always be expressed in words. Teachers, after all, aren’t necessarily psychologists. When intuitive triggers are activated, teachers immediately go to work figuring out why a student is struggling. This action inevitably increases a student’s understanding and desire to gain experience. Consider the examples above. Teacher intuition can:

  • Help a med student understand why patients do not always fall into certain categories.
  • Tell an emerging pianist how thoughts and breathing control nervousness.
  • Indicate when a new pilot is truly ready to be in the air.
  • Help a young architect discover his niche for design.

These problems can be addressed when a teacher recognizes them in a student’s work, speech, and approach to new levels of experience. They “feel” that something needs to be discussed and remedied. Psychics refer to this feeling as intuition because it does not always originate in outward traits. The ability to sense a student’s fear and apprehension is something that almost all veteran teachers develop. Only a teacher who understands the importance of analyzing their intuition will be able to help students excel.

Never underestimate your role as a teacher in a student’s development. The more you use your intuition and experience to address a student’s problems, the more likely those students will trust their own experience and intuition in the future.

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