I used to be a great teacher. I tutored all throughout high school and college. It was my primay source of income ($25 an hour, cash, don’t tell the government). Early in my career, I was great at this as well. Sometime over the last five years or so, I’ve felt my ability to communicate complex ideas to non-experts dwindling. I spend so much time time in the weeds and so much time talking to other experts and so much time thinking about hard problems that I’ve totally lost site of the scaffolding.
The last couple of years, I find myself often saying that I don’t know how to teach somethig. I am constantly saying something like, “I’m not really sure how I learned this; I lack the meta-cognition to know how to teach this.”
I am really unhappy with this state of affairs. Being an effective communicator across technical and non-technical audiences is a key skill in my line of work. And while I’m not yet bad at my job because of this, spending ten years at the same company and working in the same domain has had a narrowing effect.
I want to recover my ability to build up information from first principles. I want to be able to teach foundational knowledge that I find valuable.
I don’t know that writing will help, and I hate making end-of-year pronouncements about future writing, but to hell with it. This year, I hope to write at least a few blog posts that are informative about complex topics. I want to exercise that muscle of not just demonstrating expertise but transmitting it. I need to break through the combination of perfectionism and an expert’s eye to be helpful again to others. I need to break down what I know in a way that is accessible to a non-expert.