one of my professors started the day off by asking us a question. he asked “what is the difference between teaching and educating?” a few students answered intelligently, but the professor wasn’t satisfied.
so he shared a funny story (please forgive me if i’ve changed a few minor details, i don’t have a perfect memory after all)…
there were a group of young 11-12 year olds at an all girls school. they would get together in the bathrooms and put on makeup. they would swipe on lipstick and kiss the bathroom mirrors before heading to class. understandably, the janitor was not happy about this. after scrubbing the mirrors day after day, he went to the headmistress.
“this has got to stop. the girls cannot keep kissing the mirrors and leaving stains for me to clean up,” the janitor said.
“i agree completely. i’ll have the teachers talk to the girls. it will stop,” the headmistress assured him. but of course, the kisses on the mirrors continued to show up. and so, the headmistress decided to gather a handful the girls in the bathroom.
“ladies, it is unacceptable to leave a mess like this for our janitor to clean up,” she told them. “why don’t you show us what you have to do to clean this up,” she prompted the janitor. the janitor nodded, grabbed a sponge, dipped it in the toilet and began scrubbing the mirrors.
and just like that, the girls stopped kissing the bathroom mirrors.
this story delighted me to the fullest. and while his example was goofy, he demonstrated that the janitor was educating the girls. he gave the girls a reason to stop kissing the mirrors whereas the teachers and headmistress simply gave the girls a rule.
i’ve found in life when you are trying to get people to do something for you or do something you want them to do, if you explain it, if you educate them, they are so much more willing and likely to do so.
one of my favorite quotes reflects this idea perfectly…
leadership is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do
because they want to do it. -dwight d eisenhower
what do you think the difference between teaching and education is?
if you’re lucky enough to be inspired by a silly story, you’re lucky enough