Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Inspiration ("I could do that.")

Is there anything more gratifying than the words "You inspired me to ________ (fill in the blank)?" Lose weight, take up the accordion, go back to school, learn French, travel to India, run a marathon, start painting again. Whatever. 

The odd thing about it is that those words, which on the surface sound like the supreme complement (or flattery, depending on the speaker), really mean nothing more than the "inspired" person suddenly had the realization "Hey, I could do that.'"

I mean, we've all had the experience of coming up against something that we find very attractive, a skill we find immensely desirable, only to be overwhelmed by the feeling "I could never, ever do that." That feeling is the exact opposite of inspiration and almost never results in action of any kind. 

To be an effective—and inspirational—teacher, it is critical to make something seem so simple and effortless, so intuitive and easily grasped, that it immediately leads to the thought "I could do that."

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