Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching something that you don't know

How would you feel if you were told to teach something to some other people which in fact you're not too good about it, but the others think that you are? Oddly enough, this situation happened to me THREE times in just one week!

First, i had to fly to Lampung last week to help a company doing recruitment tests for another company, and 'all i had to do' was to test the applicants' technical skills, particularly about their power electrical engineering skills, which I know almost nothing about it (yes i am an electrical engineer, but i've been too much into electronics such that i've forgotten almost everything i've learnt about power systems). I was told about this (that I needed to assess their power electrical systems knowledge, not just general electrical engineering) just two days before the interview tests.

Second, i had to teach a statistics lab class (in civil engineering department, not EE), replacing a senior lecturer in my department. I've never used statistics for any of my research or work, so practically i know NOTHING about it. Again, i was told about this only two days before the class. To make it worse, i had to deliver the lecture in English. Although it didn't turn into a disaster, there were moments in the class where I 'silently' panicked because of my inability to answer some very simple questions from the class.

The third one is the worse among all three. It happened this morning. At 8.30am, my lecturer (well, he's actually my colleague now but i still consider them as my teacher) called me at the Lab and asked me to do a favour for another lecturer. They wanted me to replace him teaching for a workshop scheduled on 8am that morning (yup, it was late). I tried to refuse, saying that I know NOTHING about the topic that is meant to be delivered (they wanted me to teach about SCADA). But he managed to persuade me with sentences like, "yang PEDE saja, mas", "gakpapa, nanti terserah aja mau membahas apa, dibawa ngalor ngidul juga gakpapa". I panicked. So i agreed to do it, and there I went, rushing to the hotel where the workshop is to be held. Luckily, it was like a "private" workshop where there was only one attendee. We ended up discussing various topics, particularly in digital communications where he feels that he needs to know more about it. Overall, I would say the "workshop" this morning went out quite okay.

To be honest, I really felt stupid doing those stuff (teaching or doing something you're not too good at), but my advice to anyone who would probably encounter a similar problem: try to stay calm, be honest to your audience, try to shift the focus towards the participants (try to be a great listener, encourage the audience to speak up their minds and show their potentials), and work out on problems together... on the spot. Communicate.



Anonymous dina said...

Having trouble saying "NO" huh??? =p

5:03 am  
Anonymous Rian Xavier said...

Hehe. Kalo saya disuruh gitu langsung ditolak. Salam kenal =)

11:04 pm  
Anonymous Evyta said...

If I face thing like you, I'll try to make a group discussion between my students. So that's a two side conversation. So we can learn from them and they can learn from me. When we can't find the answer, we'll make it as a task together. I think that's all I've done :D
Salam kenal mas Irfan

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I love your advice!

I think you should also ask a lot of questions and let the audience do the talking like a shrink haha.

12:59 am  

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