A Science of the Helping Hand


In order for one person to help another person, the following six elements must apply:


1)  One, a person is willing and able to receive help, meaning follow the suggestion given by another person.  This is the student or recipient or learner or “helpee.”  This element is likely to be absent if the prospective student does not trust or respect the teacher.


2)  Two, another person is willing and able to give help, meaning offer an understandable suggestion that the student try a new behavior, do something they have not done before, or do something they have done before but do it differently.  This is the teacher or mentor or giver or “helper.”  This element may be absent if the prospective teacher is acting upon some motive other than helping or teaching the student for the student’s benefit.


3)  The teacher knows or believes that they are providing the form of help, or suggestion, that is what the student needs at the time this transaction occurs.


4)  The student recognizes and accepts the form of help, or suggestion, as being something that they need at the time of this transaction.


5)  The student acts upon the suggestion and follows the procedure suggested.


6)  The procedure or behavior or steps taken by the student are in fact what the student needs, or is a new behavior that does in fact provide a new benefit or positive experience for the student.   


If one of these elements is missing, or defective, the act of helping or teaching or learning does not take place effectively.  The helping or teaching act is invariably a sharing of power, the teacher is giving power to the student.  If a transfer of power from the helper to the learner does not occur, often defined as “empowering” another person, then the act of “helping” has not occurred.

John M. Medeiros, about 1992

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