“There is an inherent generosity to the human spirit, and one of its faces is the face of the teacher”
– Michael Crichton
I like to teach. In many ways I got into gaming because I liked to teach – and learn. I love learning new rules and I love explaining them to new people. I love GMing because I love explaining rules and settings and stories and genres.
If you want to put it cynically, I like feeling smart, and teaching is a great way to do that. For a variety of reasons.
For one, the teacher gets to learn. As the old saw goes, the teacher always learns more than the student. The art of taking facts in your brain and sorting them into a way to express them so you can lead someone to them and through them to understanding demands a greater synthesis and understanding of those facts than you possessed before, and seeing knowledge in another’s eyes reflects back on your own providing greater clarity and depth. But perhaps the greatest thing you learn is that you can teach, that you have knowledge. Sometimes you don’t know that, until you teach it. You can understand on some academic level that you have accumulated facts and experiences and memories and grasped how things work but until you teach, you don’t realize that all of this adds up to the magic of something more than information: to the power of knowledge and the wonder of wisdom.
To teach is to comprehend the existence of something within you you did not, until that moment fully understand, and have it recognized and valued and certified instantly. Anyone can think they know something, but if you can teach it, then you cannot be doubted.
I did not know what I knew about Kickstarters. But after watching a good many gaming and RPG ones succeed – and succeed madly! – and taking part in some of that madness, not once but twice, well, three actually since we should count all crowdfunding sites, and running my own successfully to get start up funds for The MESSAGE, my movement to make gaming men make their hobby more accommodating to women … and being the kind of person who watches closely and carefully as things happen, it turns out that after all that I knew rather a lot. And I was able to teach it to someone, who has also taught it to someone else. My knowledge was not unique, but it was the only collection of that knowledge accessible to someone who needed it – an accessibility made possible by the generosity of a teacher but even more so by the curiosity of the student.
That student runs Tea Tree Oil For Good, which is one of the greatest ideas ever: a program which exists to sell products and make money which then entirely funds charities, so said charities can do their work without worrying about the income stream, and the products can get sold by people trying to make money without balancing their work with charity. Freeing up charities to be run by people who know exactly how best to spend money and income to be generated by people who know how to generate money, on a systematic level, is an absolute game changer. Tea Tree Oil has a plan not to back just one charity but a thousand in Australia alone, and then on, eventually, to other countries. Each project can change thousands of lives, and they can change other lives. Millions of ripples, going out, from me, from teacher to student to kickstarter to Tea Tree Oils operation to all the charities it funds to the lives it recreates and the new worlds it builds. A million ripples becoming a tsunami of change, but every drop in that gigantic wave connected too, through Tea Tree’s Ripple Effect project which allows, through the magic of the internet, every single person who buys just one product to see where their money goes down to an individual level. So no more worrying about greenwashing or dumping money into a great big black hole and hoping it goes somewhere.
So this is me, casting out my ripple, my introduction of knowledge, to see where it goes. The thing about ripples, though, is they go in both directions. When a ripple hits anything, even another ripple, it bounces back to its origin. What we send out comes back not just in the knowledge of the work it can do, but in reinforcing ourselves. Like I said, I discovered I knew a lot. And I plan to use that when we run a second crowdfunding campaign for the MESSAGE later this year. We also plan to link the MESSAGE into Tea Tree’s income stream, so The MESSAGE can finally travel around Australia to boost the signal, and much more. There may also be other ways I will be crossing streams with Tea Tree, for the benefit of everyone. We will see.
When there are things to buy, and ways for others to send out ripples more simply and directly, I will let you know. For the moment though, just some good news about the future, and a reminder to everyone that teaching is good for us. Even if it is just a new game, or a new setting, or a new adventure. Even if its just to make you feel smart. It is inherently generous, and it sends out ripples of ideas. And that always makes things better.