You’ve heard this a thousand and one times, yet I say it again. There is a time for everything. I don’t mean in the cliché sense that you’re used to. By time, I mean right situation and context. Keep that in mind throughout this piece.
People tend often - too often - to believe that talking, communicating, teaching is the way to prepare others for situations they might be faced with in the future. So we talk, often much. We try to teach much. Teach our kid to do this. Tell our colleague how to do that. With the hope and often the assumption that they’ll remember the lesson when they are faced with the situation in the future. Yet till the time (situation and context , remember?) is right, many lessons will not completely learned if learned at all. Very many a lesson is learnt by being in a particular situation at least once - by experiencing. This experience cannot be gained by communicating or talking and teaching, only by living a particular situation for oneself.
Take a 10 year old kid who picks food that has fallen to the ground and eats it. What is your reflex as the grown up? You tell him not to. You scold him or shove him and if you’re from where I’m from, you beat him. Well if it’s not the right time for him to understand, he won’t. You might say or do something that scares him from picking it up next time. But when that time comes, if he doesn’t pick it up again, it is because he’s scared of the immediate consequence (you beating or scolding him again) and not because he understands the impact (getting stomach trouble from bacteria). Even trying to teach him directly not to pick the food up again for fear of bacteria might not work. Verbal communication and talking is not always the most efficient way of teaching. However, let him eat and when he has a stomach ache (even from some other cause) tell him the reason for his demise is the food he ate off the ground. I bet you he learns the lesson faster, better and by himself. Not from you telling him, but by experiencing it himself. He learns from being in the right situation and context necessary for that lesson. He learns in the right time.
How many times did your mom tell you to save for the rainy days when you were a teen? It literally is in, one ear, and out the other. When you get your first job however and are overdrawn on the eve of the day your rent is due, and calls to the six people whom you taught could rescue you end in “..I’ll let you know if I get anything.”, the lesson is blatantly, cruelly learnt. Nobody teaches you then. The ringing in your head and butterflies in your stomach you feel when trying to conjure an excuse prior to each ring of your phone by your landlord, is usually one feeling that you wish (even if only for the moment) never repeats itself. You learn from being in the situation and context necessary.
How many times as a kid did your dad scold you not to throw away food, because in his words “you don’t know what it takes to put it on the table”. But again, as long as it’s not you who puts the food on the table, you won’t know; understandably. Till the time comes. You’ve not been in the necessary situation and context but he won’t understand that it is not because you’re only 10 years old. It’s because you’ve not been there, and you can’t really be there, till the time is right. You’ve not been in an adequate situation and context where someone actually depends on you to put the food on their table. I bet if you had to feed your family by yourself, at age ten, you’ll learn how not to be wasteful, without being taught. It’s not the age, it’s the time (adequate situation and context) that makes you learn the lesson.
Of course your dad was right when he tried to make you understand these things. However he learnt those lessons only because he was there before. But he doesn’t know that. And doesn’t realize that it’s being there that made him understand and feel the importance of these lessons. And for that same reason - that you have not been in the appropriate situations before to experience these - you can’t fully understand them yourself. He teaches you what he wants you to know by saying, telling and reminding you every now and then; but the learning is not complete till the time when you experience it for yourself.
Maybe I’ll be a bad parent. Or not. I’m not sure. What I’m sure of though, is I’ll not teach my kid what I believe. I’ll put him in situations that’ll make him learn what I believe. Instead of giving him double the fare to school, and telling him to save for rainy days, I’ll give him a little more, then get some kid to steal his money someday. He’ll learn in one moment a lesson that’ll otherwise have taken years of verbal teaching. Years of communication saved by one adequate situation and context - time.
That being said, the whole point this piece conveys, destroys the purpose of the piece itself. This piece aims to teach the importance of being in the appropriate situation and context over verbal teaching; meanwhile knowing that the reader will probably not learn what the piece teaches (as it is in itself verbal teaching), till they are faced with a situation and context that warrants knowledge that might be contained herein. Then they will learn it. However, at that time, not from what they read in this piece, but rather from being in the appropriate situation and context.
Often, till we get into a situation that warrants absolutely the use of some experience we’ve had previously, we hardly are able to appreciate fully some principles and verbal teachings that we might have received earlier even on a repeated basis. So isn’t a better approach to teaching, putting ourselves and others in the required situations rather than telling and reminding and insisting? Till we understand the importance of time and situation and context in learning, we keep painfully trying to teach people to do things, rather than put them in situations that need them to do the things we try so hard to teach them to do. Learning is only completed in experiencing, in the right time.