Are There Some Things That Can’t Be Taught?

Imagine yourself watching a sporting event. Any sport will do, and any level from middle school to professional. There’s a star on the team – a generational talent. Near the end of the contest, she does something incredibleto win the game. You’ve never seen anything like it – it defies your imagination. A coach or fan shouts out, “You can’t teach that!”

And we wonder: Are there things that are really impossible to teach? Are there skills that go beyond the limits of training?

And if it’s true that some things can’t be taught, what canwe teach? And what can’t we?

For trainers, the question of talent vs. training is more than just an exercise: it’s an existential question, touching on our very livelihoods. Is there something, given all the necessary tools and education, that I just can’t teach to some person? It’s a scary thought, but one we must grapple with as we move deeper into the 21stcentury and an era of omnipresent how-to videos and DIYer TV shows. Everyone, it seems, is a trainer these days.

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