WORDS FROM W.W. June 23, 2009
“Sometimes the Student, Sometimes the Teacher, Always The Learner”

Recently I was at a camp for basketball officials. We don’t stand around a campfire late at night singing “Kum Ba Yah”, but we also don’t have to eat camp food. This camp is about learning what to do to elevate your basketball officiating. (One of the instructors reads my blog each week…and he’s Methodist! According to a line in the film A River Runs Through It, a Methodist is just a Baptist who can read!)
At this camp I’m able to hear some focused critiquing of how I officiate certain situations in a basketball game; how to not get myself into a fix; what coaches look for in terms of consistency in officials; what the different philosophies of officiating are, and on and on and on.
I’m a student in these situations as I edge towards being a senior official.
But I also find that I am now increasingly a teacher! As I head towards my tenth season of blowing whistle I find the number of times that I am with someone who is less experienced being more than the times I am with someone with more experience. It occurred to me at the camp that many of the things that I have been taught I’m now teaching newer officials.
It’s not a heady moment. It is rather a moment of awakening. I’ve crossed, ever so slightly, to the side of teacher.
It’s something very few of us think about. Who knows when the transition happened? It’s not as obvious as crossing the state line and being welcomed to Kansas. It just suddenly hits you that it’s happened.
And then you recognize that this transition carries with it new responsibilities. People look to you for guidance. They look to you for a word of clarification or instruction. They look…up to you! Being a teacher or a mentor can’t be shrugged off as an every other Saturday occupation, or even something I am when I feel like it! It’s an opportunity that is.
In some situations I am a student, and some situations I am a teacher, but I am always the learner. There is no point this side of glory where “I have arrived”. I am always learning.
From my point of view, a lot of people stop learning at some point in their life, but also they no longer seek to be a student nor a teacher. They enter and become accustomed to a sort of living lukewarmness that just is. Life no longer fascinates them. I believe that is one of the greatest tragedies, equal to someone having the resources to help another in need but avoiding it with committed apathy. When someone becomes a “drop-out of learning”, there life becomes a wasteland of nothingness.
Still a student; still a teacher; always the learner.

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