Friday, October 03, 2014

Pithy

Enjoying Germany. Great people and food (had the Deutsch version of haggis last night, very good). Jet lag normally doesn't bother me but this trip is different. May have to arrange recovery time next year between seminars...

Something Lawrence said a few weeks ago has been rolling around in my head. He said my writing, speaking and teaching were "pithy." Not a lot of words, many things implied or assumed instead of said. At the same time, I cover a fair amount of information. "Facing Violence" was essentially two hundred pages expanding on two paragraphs in "Meditations on Violence."

Implied and assumed. Assumed is hard, and potentially a serious problem. I'll write about experience thresholds later, but basically, people at different levels of experience think in different ways. Beginning drivers don't think like experienced drivers and experienced drivers don't think quite like security drivers and no one things about it like rally drivers.

The first time I taught a seminar, and one of the reasons I started writing, was because many of the students didn't have a vocabulary for things that were obvious to me. That there was a difference between a fight and an assault, for instance, or that self-defense was an affirmative defense to a crime. Violence is deep stuff and big, bigger than I will ever fully understand... but the parts I am familiar with have aspects that seem obvious, but may not be to others.

So you have to watch for your own assumptions all the time. When you teach, be alert for people who are not doing quite what you said, or are hesitating to begin at all. You may have confused them. And set up test questions (something else I need to write about) which are ways to find out what a thing truly is. You can use a test question to find if a situation is predatory or miscommunication; a proper boundary setting acts as a test question-- no normal person goes beyond the second step, opportunistic predators will push the third. For teaching, one of my favorite test questions is to have the student teach me. "Chris, you've been here four times. Guess what? You're teaching power generation."

Implied. I don't mind leaving lots implied. I teach adults and I respect them as adults. There's no need to spoon feed. Getting into specifics of dealing with EDPs (Emotionally Disturbed Persons) makes sense because so few have done it and almost everything they know about dealing with social conflict will fail. But they all have experience with social conflict, if not violence, and one of the keys in teaching adults is to tie it to their experience. I don't have to explain in details the things they experience every day, and it's a waste of time and, IMO, a show of disrespect to do so.

And there's a benefit. People aren't stupid. Okay, people in groups and people trumpeting their affiliations and a lot of drivers are stupid... but individuals are pretty smart. And, when allowed to be, they are innovative and insightful. And humans like to succeed and hate to fail. Which means, if you give them the tools and leave them alone, they'll do okay. And sometimes they surprise you and come up with something better than you ever thought of. Those are the best days for a teacher.

'Cause I'm wrong about everything. In an infinite universe, there are no perfect answers. Which means there are no right answers. Better and worse, but no "right." So everyone is wrong all the time. Including me. And every time you give a student freedom, there is a chance that she will come up with something that shifts the entire paradigm an order of magnitude closer to that unreachable perfection. That makes the student better. It makes you better, if you have the humility to learn from your own student. It makes the world better.

Two of my biggest epiphanies in martial arts came from mistakes. Misunderstanding instructions in one case and simply screwing up the footwork in another... and the product of those mistakes was ten times better (not exaggerating at all) than the 'right' way.

So if a student does misunderstand... they are adaptable, smart, tough, survivors. They will have a tendency to make the misunderstanding work. In doing so, they may change everything I think I know for the better. I'm okay with that.
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Seven days in Minnesota is almost upon us:
http://chirontraining.com/Site/VDinMNinOct.html

5 comments:

Verner Riecke said...

Another great post, Rory!

'That there was a difference between a fight and an assault, for instance, or that self-defense was an affirmative defense to a crime.'

I started teaching for the same reason. To reduce the confusion.

'I don't mind leaving lots implied. I teach adults and I respect them as adults. There's no need to spoon feed.'

That's one thing I loved most in your seminar. Teaching principles instead of techniques is what I wanted to do for a long time and you gave me lots of ideas how to do it. Thanks.

Verner Riecke said...

Oh and:

'Two of my biggest epiphanies in martial arts came from mistakes. Misunderstanding instructions in one case and simply screwing up the footwork in another... and the product of those mistakes was ten times better (not exaggerating at all) than the 'right' way.'

You've made me curious. Care to write more about those?

Rory said...

I think I have before, Verner. But incase I haven't, the One-Step drill only happened because I completely misunderstood George Mattson's description of Ippon Kumite. I somehow missed that it was scripted.
The second was a karate-style line drill. One of the students would step forward with a right downward hammer strike and you would step back and block it with a left rising block. I screwed up the foot work, didn't step back, and blocked his right hand with my right (cross) and he wound up off balance and I was behind him.

TWW said...

Copied from a Kindle book: "To scale up, they needed a way of helping any average teacher get better. They needed a kind of playbook, an understanding of what made the best teachers great so that they could help the merely ordinary get even better. They needed Doug’s taxonomy. That was what teachers had started calling his vocabulary project: the Doug Lemov taxonomy, an organized breakdown of all the little details that helped great teachers excel."
source: Green, Elizabeth (2014-08-04). Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) (p. 181). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Comment: you mentioned starting to write since students needed a vocabulary. I think Lemove mentioned above has done that for teaching but have not read his book just the one I took the quote from. Perhaps there is value in what he has done for self-defense instructors also. See:http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Like-Champion-Techniques-Students/dp/0470550473/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412683394&sr=8-1&keywords=Doug+Lemov (note: a newer version coming out next year)

Scott said...

"So everyone is wrong all the time. Including me. " I think I said that, but I could be wrong.