Why I Teach

Over the years, I have been asked by many people why I teach. The words of the answer may shift from time to time, but the message is always the same:

When one has specialized knowledge, it is one’s duty to share and transfer that knowledge to as many people as possible.

As a society, we must continue to grow and learn. The only way to do so is through the sharing and distribution of knowledge and information.  It is the reason why I will share what I have learned over the past 20+ years with anyone who wants to learn.  Some people pay me to share this information, others don’t.  Ultimately though, it is never about getting paid.  It is about helping others.

The way the world learns has changed drastically over the past decade.  Learning is no longer confined to the traditional classroom.  With the advent of online learning, the ability and opportunities to transfer knowledge have increased exponentially. Students are no longer tied to the traditional classroom environment. Instructors can be thousands of miles away and still create learning environments that are rich, meaningful and valuable.

While I do most of my teaching online, the reality is that teaching and learning is going on all over the web.  Recently, I took the family to Europe.  One of the stops we made was to Vatican City.  I wanted to know more about Vatican City before we left, and a former co-worker shared this Youtube channel with me (yes, Youtube).

As I have no idea how to make videos and am not artistic enough to make infographics or flowcharts, I write and I teach online at Southern New Hampshire University.  Telling people that I teach online brings up all sorts of interesting responses.  Most are very positive.  Some have even asked me to see some of the content I teach (as much of it is in the SEO/SEM/SMM realm).

It is no accident that I have dual interests in marketing and education. In many ways, the hallmarks of marketing (when done ethically) are very much in line with educating. In both, the goal is to engage and demonstrate value based on the needs of each individual you are trying to reach.  It is why I love marketing and it is why I love teaching.

If you are a marketer, you are a teacher.  If you are a manager, you are a teacher.  If you are a blogger, you are a teacher.  Simply put, if you are doing anything to share knowledge, you are a teacher.


The Cindy Hayes Conversion

For those who don’t watch the show Orange Is The New Black, you probably have no idea who Cindy Hayes is.  For those of you who do, you know exactly where I’m going with this post (please note that this includes a “spoiler” discussion of the Season 3 episode “Trust No Bitch”, however it is somewhat of a minor story line).

For those not watching the show, here’s the setup.  The prison has been taken over by a private company and the food the new ownership provides is beyond disgusting.  As a result, some of the women decide to use the “kosher loophole” to get better food.  This naturally spirals out of control, with over 1/3 of the inmates stating that they’re Jewish in order to get the kosher meal.

Caputo brings in a Rabbi to test those who are claiming to be Jewish and the results are predictably humorous.  Cindy Hayes decides to try and trick the Rabbi by describing her upbringing using references to Yentl and Annie Hall.

The Rabbi’s response is 100% complete awesomeness:

“Miss Hayes, while I am heartened that you appreciate the works of Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, I think you’ve confused cultural Judaism with committed Jewish belief.  Also, I hear Mandy Patinkin can be difficult to work with.”


After the visit, it comes to light that only one person passed the tests – the nun, Sister Jane Ingalls.  Not surprising, since Catholicism includes the teachings of the Old Testament.  Undeterred, Cindy continues her efforts to convince the Rabbi she wants to convert.  She studies, she learns and ultimately comes to the realization that being Jewish is about much more than just kosher food.

She once again meets with the Rabbi who asks her why she really wants to convert.  Her description of what it means to be a Jew is quite possibly the most beautiful, eloquent description I’ve ever heard.

“Honestly, I think I found my people.  I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray.  And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. And if I was good, I’d go to heaven.  And if I’d ask Jesus, he’d forgive me and that was that.  And here y’all are saying there ain’t no hell.  Ain’t sure about heaven. And if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself.  And as far as God’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like … you do God.  And that’s a lot of work, but I think I’m in, as least as far as I can see it.”

Season 3 may have been a bit uneven and the show may be spiraling in the same way that Weeds did around this time, but that speech will always have a place in my heart no matter how much the show goes off the rails.