Monday, February 06, 2012

Goals in Teaching

I don't want to teach forever. Not talking about my career goals, I'm talking about the students. I don't want a student-teacher relationship.

I've never been comfortable in any relationship with a great disparity of power. Some of that is how you look at it. A bad boss has way more power than you. A good boss in the exact same situation has way more responsibility, duties and resources. Same thing, but that simple reframe makes a huge difference.

In an LEO agency, I would occasionally see supervisors and instructors withholding information. When cornered, it was clear that they were teaching or supervising underlings. Juniors. They were focussed on preserving the power dynamic.

I never saw it that way. As an instructor, I was teaching colleagues. I was teaching people who, one day, if I really screwed up, would be my back-up. If I knew more about a thing, I taught or shared. If I knew less, I learned.

In all that time, and even now, I never really had or wanted students. Just colleagues to bring up to speed.

I'll be in that teacher role. I accept that. But the goal is to get out of that role as quickly as possible. To transmit skills and confidence so that the students feel qualified to get in there and play. To make sure they understand that their own understanding of themselves and their world is at least as valuable as anything that can be taught. To bring all levels of observation skills as far as I can. Pass on what I know of how to experiment and test. To make each and every one a teacher, so that they can teach themselves. And me.

10 comments:

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Great post.... it would be great if more teachers thought this way....

Josh K. said...

Arn't the best teacher life long learners just passing on information.

:-)

Trevor Montroy said...

Excellent. A worthy goal.

Ben C said...

I was just awarded my assist. teacher rank. After reading this. I now struggle with not filling my kids heads with bullshit.

Knitting Martial Artist said...

I love that idea of teaching. I've been lucky enough to have had instructors who act like this, and I still value them because they aren't trying to stay "in charge", but helping others to become as good as they are. Wish there were more out there who thought that...

Mac said...

But - but - what about the bowing and scraping, the hero worship, establishing a cult where hordes of - people - wave their arms and "ooh!" to your every word? Sheesh! You are such a buzzkill.

durga said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

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Vaughn said...

@Mac. He already has me doing that.

Mac said...

To break students out of the reception mode early (starting at about the 50 hour mark), I assign them a teaching project - putting together a 3+ class written lesson plan based around concept-tactic-technique. I will look at the plan, but don't critique it unless it has safety issues (hah! martial arts training and safety seems a bit oxymoron-ish). Then the student gets to try it out. I will observe the first lesson, and watch the student watching me for approval; I try to stay deadpan. During the second of their lessons, I will come and go from the training floor at random. Their third lesson, I start and end the class, otherwise, go play XBox and drink a few beers. The next class I do 'peer jury' where we all discuss the lessons. Students learn quick when they are most uncomfortable; really - why study something you already know?

Ymar Sakar said...

This was what Japan's kouhai and sempai system was originally intended to be.

A lot of things got lost in transition when the culture got taken out of Japan and inputted into so many different martial arts, however, in different countries. The ritualism and external form was maintained, but the spirit was not.

Probably the most difficult thing to teach a student is for them to think for themselves, and not simply accept everything because the teacher said it was.