Sunday, October 11, 2015

Teaching and Learning

Teaching is not an easy task and it is clear that some teachers of the occult have never actually learned to teach.  Just because you have mastered the occult does not mean you have mastered teaching.  Teaching is its own subject and your frustrations with the quality of students may be down to the fact that you don't really know how to teach. 
  • A good teacher is interested in and listens to the opinions of their students - if you do not allow them to voice their questions however banal or off-the-wall it is impossible to judge the efficacy of your teaching, if you are condescending or patronizing they will despise you.
  • A good teacher enters into a dialogue with their students allowing them to teach the teacher - from the very simple understanding that you as a teacher are learning more about the variety of students out there so you can continue to successfully adapt your teaching strategies all the way to ideas, insights and brilliant suggestions that sometimes emerge from students.
  • A good teacher plans their lessons in ways that make the information challenging but not incomprehensible.  Do not expect the millenial generation to sit in silence while you lecture them from the front for a few hours.  Make your lessons interactive.  Use different resources. Plan activities. Learn about teaching.
To be successful you also have to adapt to the changing culture when it comes to marketing yourself as a teacher - for instance Jason Miller is a brilliant example of this with his recent youtube video.  2016 is acknowledged as the year that videos and other visuals will dominate social media.  Access to the technology is so widespread that any teacher worth their salt will be exploring these new mediums.  If you don't - don't expect the students to be heading your way.  Jason Miller is clearly a fantastic teacher and personally concerned with the success of his students, celebrating their victories publicly and allowing himself to grow as a teacher within this dialogue - this builds a positive relationship based on mutual respect.  For all his pursuit of financial sorcery Jason is obviously motivated by love.

Another teacher who has adapted and who is also cherished is Josephine McCarthy who gives her course for free online at Quareia.  This widely respected individual has given of her own time to create and sustain a resource of immeasurable value for free.  She has done this because she cares about the tradition and knows that it must adapt if it wants to continue.

Why should I, as a potential student, buy your book on magic when I can read Iamblichus, Plato, Levi, Crowley, Newton, Fludd, Bardon, etc for free?  With all kinds of lectures available for free on youtube why should I pay for your course or pay for a convention which includes the cost of flying you to wherever it is being held?  You have to be able to answer these questions especially in economically challenging times. 

The millenial generation do have flaws as learners even if you plan and prepare as a master of teaching.  You can be delivering an excellent lesson and a modern student will still check their phone occassionally.  This is part of that student's internet addiction.  Often the student is doing nothing but nihilistically scrolling through banal adverts and reposted content from their friends.  Some are accumulating ''likes'' as social media continues its roll out of Skinneresque positive reinforcement strategies.  Obviously in the pursuit of wisdom there are students out there who are good learners and they adopt approaches to learning that help them get the most out of their lessons.  They know they have to check or at least minimize certain behaviours if they want to succeed.  They are the ones with the will.  They are the ones you should focus on.

The fact remains though that you as a teacher are going to be more successful and complain less if you embrace the new culture.  There are amazing students in this new generation with incredible potential and its your duty to attempt to bridge the divide.

More importantly lead by example.  Teachers who whine about their students don't cut very fine figures.  Teachers who whine about not having enough money or their students' unwillingness to give them money don't appear to be successful sorcerers.  This is not rocket science.

I haven't given up on learning.  I am a still a student.  I am also a teacher.  And ultimately a scientist not a scholar.  I post theories, experiences and experiments on this blog and I am not ashamed of admitting when I have made a mistake.  I will commit passionately to my hypotheses because those pursued with a full heart are the only ones that have really been given a fair test.  If we all did this together, as peers, we would see revival and regrowth of our community because the world we are exploring is a fascinating one and once you have glimpsed it, it is impossible to look away.  If your heart is not on fire with curiousity and in love with knowledge you were never meant for this path.


  1. Thank you, this gave me, as a teacher, a lot to think about. It is right that a teacher has to keep evolving both in themselves and also in their teaching methods. And also for young students to also understand that their formative years are in a fast changing world, whereas teachers my age grew up in a plodding world.
    I know that I cannot keep up with the speed of change, but I think through dialogue with young people, it is much easier to find a ground that fossils like me can still understand but is also useful to the young ones. Teachers are bridges, and we have to keep a foot in the ocean of the past while also placing a foot in the fast moving stream of the future.
    I think one valuable thing for older teachers to look at, is to see what in the systems of magic still need to be there, even if they are not easily palatable for students, and what is dead wood that would only hold back the new generation... the cutting and pruning, without throwing out the precious gems is a tough act, but I think it is a necessary one for teachers if we are to ensure that we pass on something that will live and thrive in a new world.
    The speed and flexibility of young people in their thought process and understanding of technology may end up making some aspects of traditional magic difficult, but they will also apply that speed in ways my generation cannot even begin to understand. And to me, that is a sign of an evolving tradition.

  2. Absolutely Josephine I agree entirely.

  3. Thanks for the kind words mate.

    This whole topic has had me perplexed: from declarations that students are somehow bad or unsupportive (not my finding) or that you cannot make a living doing this (my accountant would disagree) .

    Basically if you treat yourself as a professional, and your students as a community that you are serving (rather than the other way around) there is no problem.

    That said, no one has the right to a business model and you have to roll with the times somewhat. People are not itching to join orders anymore.

  4. Hi Jason, I wouldn't say them if they weren't demonstrably true. You have earned your status and are shrewd enough to adapt to the changing climate. You work in conditions of mutual respect with your students and they love you for it.

    I have moved from perplexed to horrified at the way in which certain elders of our tradition are embarassing themselves over this topic. Aaron Leitch (after clearly not actually reading the post he quoted from when he called me a jackass) just accused me of covering my ''laziness as a student'' and that I am ''the problem with modern occultism''. Harsh words from somebody I share a group with and whom I supported when he was down on his luck and money. I can understand he is upset but he really needs to get a grip.

    Rather than slagging off students he should probably spend a little bit of time re-modelling his website which still seems to link to myspace and one of those geocities things with the sparkling stars in the background. The colours he has chosen give me a headache.

    Coming back to this muggle jobs business and where it coincides with slagging off students don't these guys realise that they are shooting themselves in the foot here? When they are doing crowdfunding to pay for their medical bills etc where do they expect the financial support to come from? Surely it has to come from people who have jobs???

    As you say in your blog there is a lot you provide for free. The youtube video is a good example, it can be seen by anyone - and for the record anyone who happens to read this I do present on the subjects of QBL and Cellular Consciousness, the contents of this blog etc - in real life - and the money raised goes to support charities that alleviate suffering in Palestine.

    Obviously this whole debacle is part of a seismic generational shift in the WMT. As you know I have been calling it out for a while now. I am genuinely interested to see where it goes.