The Teacher Being Surpassed by the Student

I was in class on Saturday thinking about how nice it would be if an article of mine on was used as a piece of “teaching material” – i.e. quoted in class, or perhaps in the lecture notes.

It was then that a recollection of “some saying” hit me, something about the aim of a teacher is  to have students surpass him or her in skills. Well, a Google search has just confirmed I was imagining such a saying (apparently teachers don’t really care about students surpassing them in skill.)

But I did come across a Chinese saying that goes like this:  青出于蓝而胜于蓝 qīngchūyúlánérshèngyúlán, which literally translates to “blue comes from the indigo plant but is bluer (vivid) than the plant itself.”

Two things I learned: that the Chinese have some very nice and poetic sayings (well, I’ve actually known this a long time); and that I want to be that teacher who seeks to have students whose skills surpass mine.

I’ve always dreamed of having a team of data workers (data-analysts, engineers, scientists) working under me technically more skillful than me, even when hired they may not have been so. To build a Manchester United of data science within the company (my dear employers, are you reading this? Excited?! I am.)

As an aside: For even more dramatic effect, make that the Manchester United of the 1950-1960s under Sir Matt Busby. The one whose team was just about wiped out in a plane crash in 1958 on their way to the finals of the European Cup, only to return ten years later to win it. I love that story.

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My name is Donn, and you’ll find me working at the intersection of business and information technology, constantly looking for ways to apply IT to business and life to make things better. I’m a big fan of data analysis and its subsequent communication. It always gives me a thrill extracting meaning out of data through analysis, and figuring out the best way to present the findings for maximum impact!

Let me know what you think