A young man approaches an elderly man and says, “Do you remember me?”
The elderly man replies, “No.” The young man then claims to have been his student. “What do you do, what do you do in life?” the teacher then asks.
The young man responds, “Well, I became a teacher.”
“Ah, great, just like me,” said the elderly man.
“Yes, I guess. You motivated me to become a teacher because I wanted to be like you.”
Curious, the elderly guy inquires of the young man when he becomes a teacher. The young man then tells him the following story: “One day, a student friend of mine came in with a great new watch, and I decided I wanted it.
I snatched it by stealing it from his pocket.
Soon later, my friend discovered his watch was missing and informed our teacher—you—immediately.
Then you told the class, “This student’s watch was stolen today during class. Please give it back.”
I chose not to return it since I didn’t want to.
You shut the door and instructed us to create a circle by standing up.
You would go through each of our pockets and look for the watch.
Nevertheless, you instructed us to close our eyes since you would only search for his watch if we were all doing so.
We followed the directions.
Before coming to mine, you searched through each pocket, where you discovered the watch and took it. When you had finished poking around in everyone’s pockets, you said, “Open your eyes.” The watch is with us.
You didn’t expose me, and you never brought up the incident. You also omitted to mention who took the watch. You forever preserved my honor on that day. The day was the most embarrassing of my life.
But I also decided on this day to avoid becoming a thief, a nasty person, etc. You didn’t reprimand or pull me aside to provide a moral lesson; you said nothing.
Your message was apparent to me.
You helped me to understand what a true educator must accomplish.
Do you still recall this incident, professor?
Yes, I recall the incident involving the stolen watch I was searching for in everyone’s pocket, the old professor replied. I DIDN’T REMEMBER YOU because I also closed my eyes while looking.
The core of teaching is this: “You don’t know how to teach if you have to humiliate someone to correct them.”