Thoughts on Teaching: A Story of the Wise Teacher and the Student


Not long ago, I heard a story that has really been bouncing around in my head.  It left me thinking a lot about my role as a homeschooling Mom/teacher… and about my kids’ roles as students.  I am going to do my very best to re-tell that story in this post today. I’m not sure of its origin.  In my version of this story, the wise teacher is a female, but of course the wise teacher can be a male too!!   🙂 ~Liesl


There was once a wise teacher, known for many miles around.  Numerous students flocked to learn from this great master.

Years went by and one-by-one her students would leave her and go off to do great work in the world.  All, that is, but one.

For this one student, things did not seem to be going well. This student wondered why he wasn’t ready for the world after years under this teacher’s tutelage. He figured it must be the teacher’s fault.  One day, he asked for a special meeting with the wise teacher.

“Teacher,” said the student, “Why am I not yet ready to go off into the world? I listened carefully to everything you have said. I have acquired vast knowledge.  Why, then, am I not as learned as the other students? It’s not fair. Some of the students started after me and they are already off on their own, doing great things in the world.”

“Student,” replied the teacher, “Perhaps I should meet you at your home to discuss this further.  Where do you live?”

The student gave her his address, but the teacher wanted more.  “Can you please give me directions to your home so I can get there without a map.”

And so, the student told the teacher in great detail how to find his home. Explained about the twists and turns in the road, to watch out for the apple tree with the dead branch just before the road that led to his home.  He explained about the flower box just to the left of the door and the herb garden off to the right.

The wise teacher carefully repeated the directions to her student, not forgetting even a single detail.

“Yes, yes. That’s right!” said the student.

“Do I have all the information I need?” the teacher asked.

“Oh yes, you’ll have no trouble at all,” replied the student.

“I haven’t forgotten anything?” the teacher wondered, now looking puzzled.”

“No, that’s everything,” said the student.

“So, no important last minute hints?” asked the teacher with a slight frown.

“No, really.  You have it right,” said the student, now almost feeling annoyed.

There was a long pause as the wise teacher rubbed her chin.

“Well then,” the teacher said her hand clasped behind her back now.  “Am I at your home?”

“What?” asked the student, a bit confused.

“Am I not standing with the flower box on my left and the herb garden off to my right down yonder?” said the wise teacher with her eyes closed.  “After all, I have all the information I need, right down to the smallest detail.”

There was a long period of silence.

Bowing his head the student finally looked up at his wise teacher, the lesson finally dawning on him.  “Oh Teacher,” said the student humbly, “It is not just information and details that I must remember.  I must learn to take action. It is in the doing that takes us where we need to go.”


That is the end of this story, but it left me thinking hard about what true learning is in our homeschool.

How can students be engaged with the information they are learning?

And of course, it left me thinking about these two quotes…

“Information is not knowledge.” ~Albert Einstein

“Maximum learning is always the result of maximum student involvement, for we always learn by doing…”  [author unknown]

This story definitely made me think a lot about how students (and my kids) learn.  Next Thursday, in this series Thoughts about Teaching, I’m going to talk a bit about teaching strategies and getting that maximum student involvement.

I hope you and your kids have a wonderful day! Happy Homeschooling!

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. ~Liesl

Other posts in this series:

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