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My daughter is a professional teacher. She is qualified to teach teacher how to teach. I am proud of her for her intelligence and skill. Because of her, I took a serious look into the art and science of teaching, and related it to teaching Aikido.
One of my most personal pangs when it comes to Aikido is how teaching of Aikido has been taken for granted. Not a criticism, a painful observation as a result of my better understanding of teaching. Too many dojo's don't focus the art of teaching, over looking it's complexity. It is assumed after being awarded a shodan or nidan, and possibly a short stint assisting the sensei teach you are ready to teach.
It can't be ignored that Aikido's teaching tradition isn't absent of Confucianism. Confucius said, "If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself." Aikido's traditional method of teaching is forged from the world of old Japan steeped in centuries of Budo and Zen tradition. It would be my error not to point it out the influence of the Founder and those personalities of his pioneering deshi's direction. All of it carries an aspect of assumption that doesn't work too well in other places. An assumption that traditional teaching methods work outside Japan.
Traditional teaching of Aikido suffered from neglectful assumptions. Today, as most of Aikido teaching is done, it carriers the assumption of uniformity of its people. The Resulting predictability of people's behavior from the view "If a nail sticks up, pound it down" doesn't function well universally in places of diverse culture and students of greater individuality. Neither does the other elements of Budo and Zen work well in other places. Over the generation of traditional teaching approach that didn't translate well in other places lead to many assumptions resulting in less than effective teaching and learning.
To teach isn't easy, as at its base function it is to communicate effectively information to another, and have that other person demonstrate it as expected. It is hard to teach effectively. There is so many different learning styles and intelligences that need the proper teaching match to achieve maximum results. There are a myriad of different personalities and backgrounds of people, both student and teacher that if mismatched interfere with effective teaching and limits learning. A teacher to be effective must have teaching skill to be able to identify and determine the teaching methods best suited for each student's learning style. Communicating effectively information in the best way the student understands, avoiding what my daughter notes as falling into assumptive teaching methods. Assumptive teaching is not to be confused with spoon-feeding teaching. This is one of many areas of understanding lacking in understanding what it takes to effectively teach Aikido.
There is a plethora of Aikido teachers teaching Aikido who have limited training in teaching, and are poorly prepared. Aikido is a difficult complex art. Those of us who train in Aikido know there are no simple body mechanics involved. It is no wonder why there are so many complaints from students who are frustrated and struggling with learning Aikido. I am sure it is a factor for why it takes so long to learn Aikido and why so few are not as accomplished and they expect to be over many years of training.
What is the solution in avoiding the assumption trap of teaching Aikido. A two part issue that in my mind is the real factor behind the dilution of Aikido as an art. In the first part new and old teachers need to realize their teaching limitations. There must not be any assuming when it comes to the art of teaching. It is not enough to be a teacher of Aikido based on a directive of a sensei, because of rank or most of all because they assume they can teach. Modern teaching methods have much to offer Aikido. Modern teaching methods are designed for success of the wide spectrum of students. Modern teaching methods are such that they can be adapted easily into Aikido.
The second part, taking modern teaching approaches. Good teachers will seek out the proper teaching methods to disperse information the most effective way to the students, even if it goes against tradition. A modern trained teacher can also repair misinformation, handle and filter information that is incorrect, and even misinformation related to learning skill. Areas which are very difficult for a sparsely trained teacher to handle properly. Good teachers will take the art of teaching seriously. These people will educate themselves in education properly. Seeking out and using modern teaching methods is a personal requirement to the good teacher of Aikido.
In no way, am I advocating getting a teaching degree before teaching Aikido, though it would not hurt. Instead am advocating that those wishing to teach Aikido put great effort into learning the art of teaching. Take college courses, researching teaching, talking to the professionals, have a qualified professional teaching mentor, defines effort. I am not saying that the Japan traditional teaching method has no value, but rather they are of a specific fit. And most people don't have the resources to travel to Japan and learn the proper traditional military teaching methods for Aikido. For most of us teaching, will do what it takes to teach effectively, and not assume what it takes to be a teacher. Better teaching leads to better skilled teachers, creating better Aikido students and Aikido practitioners to carry on Aikido.
Let me leave you with this quote. It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.