Teaching someone else how to do something hearkens back to the days of Master Craftsmen and their Apprentices. The days when the skilled and experienced artisan passed on their knowledge and training onto a junior aspirant, and it has its roots in religious systems as well. To pass on a skill, a concept, or a way of being, to share with someone else a passion you possess, is a blessing, a gift, a purpose. I believe each of us in some way possess the gifts of teaching, but I know throughout my secular, aviation, and now priestly vocations, teaching is something I think defines me.
On October 1, 2000, I completed one of the most difficult FAA aviation checkrides. That checkride included a lengthy oral exam in which the examiner quizzed me on the Federal Aviation Regulations, the complicated concepts of aerodynamics, the many logbook endorsement requirements for students, and any other topic he wished to discuss. Later, I spent nearly two hours in the aircraft teaching the examiner every maneuver for each pilot certificate (private, commercial, and instrument rating), along with more oral questions. At the end of the examination, and as we were taxing back to the ramp, the examiner looked at me and said something so profound, “Eric, today you are a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), congratulations.” He continued, “Today, you begin learning how to become a better pilot yourself. Let your students teach you how to become a better pilot, as you teach them to become a pilot.”
I believe that teachers learn more about their subject or skill, when they teach others. I think we clergy also learn more about our sacred vocation, by those things God’s people teaches we priests. Teachers are not mere purveyors of concepts, statistics, quotes, and ideas. Teachers are relationship builders through which, both student and teacher learn together. I give thanks to my flight instructors over the years who taught me to be a better person: Evelyn Bryan Johnson, Beth Ford (Lennarz), Mike Figard, Paul Scott (also my first student). Thank you for not only being a teacher to me, but for giving me the gift of friendship.