25. Discerning Teachers on the Internet

Discerning “Teachers” on the Internet … ?

The Internet: It is, most assuredly,
the single most effective method
ever invented by man

to spread
Ignorance, Immaturity, and Viciousness
throughout the human race –

a platform for
the despotic and the depraved,
the greedy and the gullible,

to circulate ego and error
amongst multitudes
who know nothing of life
beyond following whatever they see
presented on a screen.

Observation has shown that the 21st century
is the Age of the Instant “Expert” …

In the age of technology, ignorant men
are swift to render their opinion:

No sooner do they acquire
the merest smattering of knowledge,
than they deem themselves qualified
to instruct others.

Those with a mind, and a conscience,
will exercise discernment and discretion
when considering the vast multitude
of modern humanity that set themselves up
as … “teachers”.

“Men that have the clearest heads,
and have been at the greatest pains
in their inquiries to find out truths,
have brought back the clear conviction
of their own ignorance.” – John Owen

How can someone know whether a person
offering advice on the Internet
can actually be trusted?


The Internet SHOULD be a place where
knowledge, kindness, and compassion
can be openly shared;
where people can be edified, learn,
and be taught by,
those who know, have skill, or experience.

DISTURBINGLY though, the Internet
is often little more than a ‘soap-box’
upon which

the vain broadcast their vanity;
the vulgar, their depravity;
and the audacious, their ignorance;

and where the lazy and the immature
regurgitate whatever particular rumour or error ‘fits’
with their vanity or personal agenda.

There are, most observably, two types of “teachers”
that predominate:

those who promulgate fancied opinion (without care
to examine whether what they are saying is true),
and deliver their “instruction”
in a glib or off-hand manner;

And, those who are observably domineering:
who self-importantly deliver a list of their
certificates, titles, and accolades
while imparting information or instruction.

In the situation of specialised learning ( that is,
learning outside elementary or secondary school )
a genuine TEACHER has NO need to
predominantly broadcast his accolades or achievements:

listed separately as an introduction
or to establish his or her practical qualifications
for those who require such things,
is certainly more than sufficient.

Those who are … Fit to Instruct …
Will Be suitably furnished for the task:

they will Not appear ‘the same’
as the masses that populate the Internet.

A teacher will be qualified by meticulous attention
to detail;
insistence upon maintaining a high standard;
and – the ability to communicate … Properly.

They will know how to spell;
they will be suitably qualified with


the Humility to distinguish Fact
from Personal Opinion;

and Wisdom – which only comes
from Life Experience.

The teacher who possesses the abilities to teach
will evidence it through written or spoken word.

As in any aspect of life: give any person ten minutes,
and their character will be revealed in the words
and demeanour.

A genuine teacher will not shout at,
swagger before, or intimidate, his students.

No matter what the subject,
the COMPETENT teacher
will have absolute confidence IN the veracity
of his knowledge and experience.

A genuine teacher (who is one from the heart)
will have no desire whatsoever
to dominate – physically or verbally – those
who come to him or her for instruction.

Their joy – their real satisfaction – comes
from the look on a thankful students’ face
as he understands and appreciates
what he is being taught.

The labourer is worthy of his hire, and fees
that a teacher receives are only right and proper.
But they are not the motivation for the sincere teacher
who will often spend additional time
– with no reward.

A domineering instructor –
HOWEVER skilled he may be –
is NO qualified teacher.


It is testament to the materialistic mentality
of the 21st century to note that “QUALIFIED”
is NOW taken to mean the holder of certain
academic certificates.

I use the term “Qualified” to mean men and women
who possess the qualities of HUMILITY, PATIENCE,

as well as the ABILITY to SPEAK and write in such a way
as to make genuinely seeking students
UNDERSTAND a certain concept.

The old Irish grandpa who has been farming
with shire horses for 50 years,
is invariably a far more qualified teacher
than the deluge of degree-wielding upstarts
being let loose from many an agricultural college.

That a person may ‘cram’ and regurgitate answers
on a test paper – and so, earn an academic certificate,
has NOTHING whatsoever to do with being Qualified.

Ability to teach, Knowledge, AND Life Experience –

a concept that is utterly lost on the
machine-like automation (“I’m just doing my job”)
and assembly-line mentality of today.

In the Religion of Academia, professors,
instructors, and ‘professionals’ abound
who are anything BUT teachers –
– as many a serious student will readily attest.

A Qualified TEACHER has characteristics of
Humility: Self-discipline, Patience,
and the Ability to Explain.

The CONDUCT of a Teacher

Where any class is held to distribute SPECIALISED
knowledge or skill, the teacher should automatically
have the respect and attention
of every student in the class.

No discipline should be required at all.
If a student disrupts the class, arrives continually late;
or displays any other indication that he
‘does not want to be there’, he should be ejected.

Those who WANT to learn WILL be … ‘on time’,
quiet, attentive, and diligent in the pursuit of learning.
Discipline will not be necessary,
amongst those who … WANT … to learn.

Accordingly, where blowhard bellowing
and Hollywood-esque
‘U.S. Marine Corps’ swaggering or
‘Academic’ nose-in-the-air haughtiness is evident,
one might be forgiven for imagining that

the desire to dominate,
the elation of being ‘in control’ … or
simply being regarded as ‘superior’

is the motivation behind that ‘teacher’.

May I suggest that, in such a situation, it would be
prudent for the serious prospective student
to look for another teacher ?

It is worth considering that a ‘teacher’
who does not possess the professionalism,
self control, and basic good manners
to refrain from the filthy language of profanity,
is no fit guide or role model
for ANY serious-minded human being.

Vulgarity, crude “humour”, and obscenities
betray a lack of integrity, intellect,
self discipline, and maturity.

Such an individual is no safe guide
in ANY topic of significance.

(There was a time – a few decades ago,
when that much was obvious. )

A second suggestion to those seeking Internet instruction,
is to immediately be very wary of any ‘teacher’ or ‘expert’
who ‘name-drops’ so-called celebrities.

“I recommend this [insert any item or activity here]
because it is just like the one that [insert celebrity’s name here]
uses [owns, or practices].”

By all means, such trivia may be highly interesting months later,
over an informal cup of tea and a lemon cranberry scone;

BUT where such a declaration is part of the ‘sales pitch’
relating to experience, skill, or teaching ability,
a discerning person will immediately become sceptical.

A good teacher will have no need to appeal
to the ‘example’ of “celebrities”, TV ‘stars’,
or ‘action heroes’.

Such declarations are the domain of children
who have never matured past imitating storybook
(or Hollywood, or ‘sports’, or television) characters.

DISCERN and DETERMINE the Validity of Any “Teacher”

A sound, experienced, genuinely GIFTED teacher
will CALMLY impart what he has to teach;

he will not be constantly reminding students
of his achievements,
accolades, or ‘official’ accreditation.

The manner of speaking (or writing) of any man or woman,
will almost always reveal character, temperament,
and INTENT –

It is up to YOU to DISCERN the ‘tree’
by the ‘fruit’ that it bears.

The loud, abrasive, cock-sure ‘know-it-all’
– however much knowledge he has –
is no teacher for me.

What I have suggested elsewhere with regard
to companions … is equally true of Teachers:

Seek out those who are quiet,
humble, and sober-minded;

Avoid those who are loud,
aggressive, and frivolous.

I hope that the few thoughts offered here
– drawn from the experience of my life,
may be of some benefit to yours.

P Livingstone

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