Monday, January 25, 2016

I Can't Teach THAT!

Violence Dynamics 2015 was pretty spectacular. It will be hard to top next year. More on that later, maybe.

During the drive to the airport, Kasey and I were talking about teaching, and teaching teaching, and about people. In any field there are some people that just don't get "it." Whatever "it" is for that field. There are some people who shouldn't be cops. Sometimes because their emotionally vulnerability makes them unable to deal with manipulators, sometimes because their lack of compassion makes them blind... there are hundreds of personality traits that make someone a poor cop.

Some people will never be fighters. I'm not talking about strength or speed, but there are some people that have essential elements of heart that are simply missing.

And some people will never be teachers. There is something missing and they can't command the respect to be listened to. You can force a hundred students to attend, give a simple and important subject and none of the students will make the connection, none of them will listen, none of them will learn.

And in the real world, there appears to be almost an inverse correlation between ability and desire. Probably for reasons of insecurity, many of the people least fit to be cops or teachers want to be cops or teachers. They think the position will give them the respect they can't seem to get on their own. The people who can't fight want to be fighters, hoping the label will make their fear and insecurity go away.

Kasey and I were talking about teaching instructors, and how to deal with the person who desperately wanted the title and was willing to put in the time and do the work, but would never achieve the standard. What do you do? This isn't a bureaucracy. actual life and safety depend on the quality of a teacher in certain fields. At the same time, our internal ethics would demand that we treat all instructor candidates the same...

Fairness, or the actual lives of a generation of students?

That's a question I'm going to dodge, for now.

But here's the cool thing and one of the things I love about people. In certain circumstances, all of that is bullshit. Almost everything I am really good at is stuff that someone I had every right to believe told me I couldn't do.

Yes. Some people can't teach. And usually the honorable thing to do is to tell them that. And some will believe you and quit, and more will refuse to believe you and manage to get into a teaching position and suck for their entire career. And a few, a very few, a tiny number, will say, "Fuck you." And they will leave and on their own they will become extraordinary teachers. They will work their asses off to prove you wrong.

Some people can't fight. And usually the honorable thing to do is to tell them that. And some will believe you and quit, and more will refuse to believe you and manage to get into a force profession and suck for their entire career, and get other people and themselves hurt. And a few, a very few, a tiny number, will say, "Fuck you." And they will leave and on their own they will become extraordinary. They will work their asses off to prove you wrong.

I don't know what it is about that tiny number. I can't pick them out of a crowd. But that incredible diversity of human attitude is one of the things that makes people so damn cool.

15 comments:

toby said...

I'd say it goes a step further;
Some who used to be excellent or spectacular teachers (or fighters?) will face and get lousy over time. They might stop caring, they might forget enough of the fundamentals to not be able to communicate, they might get distracted teaching what their students want instead of what is helpful.

Marcus said...

And there are some brilliant practicioners who really suck teaching and vice versa

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Those can,do. Those who can't teach shouldn't...

C. said...

Another thing to consider is that in many situations, the "training" is actually just a selection. For example, in combat sports, there is rarely any structured approach to turn the student into a fighter by helping him develop what you call the "elements of the heart". Instead, students who have "it" stick with the training and overcome adversity (like losing in a tournament), while those who don't have it just quit, or keep on sucking for their whole career. I think it is often the same with force professions: training teaches you to use handcuffs or file a report, but it rarely helps you get the "mindset" (for lack of a better word) in an organized way.

Maybe "the few" that you refer to are people who initially lacked the qualities needed for their goal, but picked them up on their own through random learning.

This theory implies of course that one believes such qualities can be learned, and many people disagree with that.

Rory said...

http://chirontraining.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/training-and-selection.html

Erik Kondo said...

And there is also the element of chance. Take ten sport fighters who are EQUAL in everyway. Then create a round robin tournament in which each fighter has one match against the other nine.

Chance dictates that one fighter will win most of his matches and one will lose most of his matches, yet both are of equal ability.

The winner will take all and the loser will most likely quit.

Anonymous said...

There are many things that one can learn, but not all of them can be taught. And there are things that are either there or not.

You can send someone to acting school and have them attend voice lessons, text work lessons, bodywork lessons etc. but the crucial part of acting, appearing to be another person - what actors call "getting into character" - cannot be taught. Either one can do it or not. I'm not even sure whether it can be learned. It requires a willingness to be not yourself, to be a person who may be ugly, nasty, stupid, evil. However, there are many people who want to be actors, nice, willing people, who will never make it. They have a dream - "I want to be an actor" - but cannot achieve it. Acting is not about being admired.

Likewise, many people want to be "martial artists" but lack the "heart" or whatever you want to call it, the inner drive to do it. They are usually hampered by a desire to be perceived as "nice". No, you cannot beat people up successfully while remaining nice. Martial arts is not about being nice. Again, this is something they have to sort out themselves. Gaze into the abyss brings the risk that the abyss gazes back into you, as Nietzsche put it.

In both cases, their ego, their self-image overrules the goal.

Terry Crowell said...

An old guy,
Nearly 77, not in horrible shape, former PFC USMC, not fast, not on any medication, not really aggressive, is non-confrontational, but whose training, long ago, still instills confidence. The issue is how and where to obtain the proper practice, the ability to recognize a potential threat, being prepared to react to the threat. This old guy has no idea, but will not sit and do nothing.

2Rude said...

Hm, as i read this post, I got the feeling that I'm one of those people who can't fight. I just don't have the drive, the 'killer instinct', perhaps. The heart. Nevertheless, I train because I enjoy it and I train because being helpless when someone I love is in mortal danger would be a fugging nightmare.

Anonymous said...

There's this interview with Obama going around the web right now. Whatever your feelings on him as a president, the clip struck a chord for me. When asked what question he would have for the people vying for his job, he said he would want to ask: what are you doing this for? It seems the same question belongs here, for those of us who would want to be teachers, and especially teachers in your tradition (loaded term! But it's a reality - just look at the Talmudic study your posts receive if there's any question as to how people view your work). Why do you want to do this? If you're doing it for ego, title, to fill a hole, to see yourself as someone's savior, you'd better stop here and go contribute to the world another way. If you're doing it because you are a student too, and want them to know what you know and make it their own and become stronger and freer and maybe better than you, proceed. Telling someone they can't teach when it's really true is a favor to everyone. Helping them to examine their own motives and determine whether they have sufficient humility to do it is an even bigger favor if they can manage to hear you.

Jay said...

I am one of the people who aren't a fighter in heart. Or more specifically I'm not a physical fighter. I was being told I'm too nice, I would never hit a fly etc. But I am persistent to a point of stubborness.

Years ago when my then-girlfriend-now-wife showed me a Martial Arts/self defense poster and told me it would be really strange to see me doing something like that, something awoke inside me. Now I'm teaching martial arts to adults, self defense and force usage to practical nurse students, working as a bouncer/security... I found something in me I didn't know even existed. My persistence has helped me to find a way to deal with physical situations. I'm learning to other immediately, like flipping a switch. It enables me to really use force on another person. Of course sometimes it still fails and I'm back to my old all-too-defensive self, but there has been huge amount of progress.

It has been a long jorney. And I believe it is the only way to truly change yourself. It must come from within, no one can teach you that. Only give guidelines. But you must discover it within yourself and feed it. Find what you need to bring the fighter in you to the surface and nourish it.

It will change you in a lot of ways if you succeed. It has changed me and I can only guess what kind of person I am after 3, 5 or 10 years. Maybe I will find the point where I can no longer find a way to improve myself and it's time for me to do something else. Who knows.

Life lesson: If you want a change, never give up, but face and accept the facts.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Have had a number of people who wanted to be a teacher in what I do as the job... that's the question I keep asking. .. why do you want to do this... it often starts with various answers and those change... ultimately it's something that I cant express propely ni words but it's a notion of getting them to do it right... to get it... it's not an easy thing to do or find... so far no one has really got it and actually become a teacher...
In otherside others have become teachers... but that was more the job found the teacher...

The European Historical Combat Guild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Asen R Georgiev said...

I was told that I can't learn to fight, and shouldn't even study, by professionals .
17 years of martial arts and counting now, and I still don't believe those people...
Is that kinda what you are talking about? Because that reminds me of a movie quote.
"All fighters are pig-headed some way or another: some part of them always thinks they know better than you about something. Truth is: even if they're wrong, even if that one thing is going to be the ruin of them, if you can beat that last bad out of them... they ain't fighters at all."
Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris, "Million Dollar Baby".

Rory said...

Yes, Asen. Some people just won't quit, and the more you discourage them, the harder they work to prove you wrong. And I believe there are some, maybe many, who need a negative environment to flourish.