Although I am educated and hold a PhD, I learned the most about how to teach by example from my parents. From the time I was a small child, my mother would sit my on the counter in her kitchen to cook and as I got bigger, a chair was pulled over to the edge of the counter. She carefully measured each item and let me taste each ingredient. She explained the purpose as I tasted the salt, sugar, flour, etc. I quickly learned because I was part of the cooking process. My favorite recipe to bake was from a Betty Crocker cooky book -sugar cookies. My mother carefully wrote in the margins of the book, the date and what we thought of each cookie recipe. (This cookie book became our family favorite and for Christmas one year, my mother bought a copy for each of her children. We each use it frequently and are writing our own notes in the margins.)
As I grew older, I used her example to teach my children whether it be cooking, knitting, household life or academics. When my son asked what the bread would taste like without salt, we made a half recipe and learned what would happen. What does yeast do? We baked a recipe without yeast and a recipe with yeast. Learning by example. Learning by experimentation. It seemed silly to not add salt to the bread or especially yeast, but my young son saw the effects immediately. But more importantly, he learned that it was okay to try something new and that we could really learn some great things from making mistakes. He learned that he wasn’t going to be chastised from making a mistake. Instead, he was asked what he learned from it.
Every event in our lives can be used as a learning experience. It doesn’t have to complicated or take a lot of planning. What have been the greatest teaching by example experiences in your life?