View Full Version : What makes a teacher?

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Paula Lydon
07-17-2002, 07:00 PM
Just a simple question this time. What, in your opinion, makes a true teacher? :rolleyes:

07-17-2002, 09:01 PM
The one that is a true student.

07-18-2002, 09:37 AM
Consistently high standards.

Patience and compassion.

Until again,


07-21-2002, 12:01 AM
Paula, I'm not sure what you mean by a 'true' teacher, but one definition of a 'good' teacher is one who teaches people, not subjects.

There can much to your question. What prompts it?


07-21-2002, 12:25 AM
Everything the others have posted plus a love and passion for the subject being taught.

If I think back to the various teachers I've had, the ones that made the biggest impact were the ones who obviously loved their chosen subject.


07-21-2002, 04:01 AM
Love of the subject being taught is important, true; but to my mind, nothing makes a teacher more than the love of teaching itself.

Teaching is a skill unto itself, the person who loves to teach will tend to learn the skills and develop the experience required to become a great teacher.



Katie Jennings
07-21-2002, 05:59 AM
Someone that will say over and over- Kate, that STILL isn't your left foot, and then makes me laugh about it.


07-21-2002, 10:20 PM
Just a simple question this time. What, in your opinion, makes a true teacher? :rolleyes:
Hello Paula

This is an article that you might find interesting if you havent alredy read it.


All the best for training :)

07-21-2002, 11:31 PM
Someone who can not only teach you stuff, but actually help you learn to learn stuff. Me thinks...

07-22-2002, 08:01 PM
A true Teacher is that who know the Path... and then Know how to Transmit knowlegde to others, and more Important, to Teach people to Learn for Themselves; had to be familiarized with the learning process, surely be proficient in to use didactical and pedagogical resources as well.


07-22-2002, 08:21 PM
Thorough knowledge of the basics, humility.

07-22-2002, 09:36 PM
Has an open mind and spirit and is willing and capable of learning news ways of practicing, teaching and applying all aspects of Aikido and in turn, sharing that with his/her students. Also, one who is not TOO BIG for his/her own hakama to take ukemi for their students if capable.

I've been to too many clinics and dojo where the chief instructor does not participate in training. They just show the technique but won't take any kind of ukemi, especially when they have invited a senior instructor to their dojo.

Note 1: I said if capable. I certainly understand injuries and such.

Note 2: Ukemi does not just mean break falls.

07-23-2002, 04:31 AM
Miranda-san... I humbly agree with your opinion, especially about ukemi, it doesn't just mean breakfalls.

07-23-2002, 08:04 AM
Miranda-san... I humbly agree with your opinion, especially about ukemi, it doesn't just mean breakfalls.
Nor does it just refer to falling in general...

-- Jun

07-23-2002, 09:45 AM





07-23-2002, 10:30 AM
Nor does it just refer to falling in general...

-- Jun
That is correct and what I meant ... Thanks Jun!

07-23-2002, 05:16 PM
A little bit out of topic here...

It's such a coincidence that this topic, ukemi, came up because I'm writing a small paper on the significance of ukemi in Aikido training for shodan grading next year.

I'm glad there are people that shared the same view about ukemi. The word ukemi doesn't even translate to falling or breakfall. Although the dictionary translates it to passivity or being acted upon, in Aikido it means much more than that. I probably shouldn't get into that discussion, because it is kind of subjective.

I just want to say that, being uke is actually learning more about being nage. This was what my sensei taught me, and a good teacher, a true teacher, knows this.

07-23-2002, 05:41 PM
Just a simple question this time. What, in your opinion, makes a true teacher? :rolleyes:
Okay Paula ... You're turn!

07-23-2002, 06:10 PM
A good teacher is sensitive to his students needs. He or she knows when to push and when not to push. He encourages students to train hard, but allows them enough room in their training for them to learn their own aikido. He does not dictate what aikido should be to the student, but rather encourages the student to learn what it means to them.

07-23-2002, 09:56 PM
Sounds like you folks are talking about what makes a good leader...

So would you agree that being a true, or good teacher requires one to be a good leader?

Does being a true teacher necessarily mean that one has to be the alpha wolf? The sort who's actions imply "been there, done that...now you go there and you do that."

Course, just may be my antihistamines talking today... :freaky:

07-24-2002, 05:13 AM
John Kuo writes:

Does being a true teacher necessarily mean that one has to be the alpha wolf? The sort who's actions imply "been there, done that...now you go there and you do that"

actually, I have seen both versions of alpha wolf and someone you would never think of as alpha wolf. I know several very quiet and humble teachers who do not stand out on the mat and are very gracious. Their students are excellent and show terrific spirit. A teacher is reflected in their students. If their students are honest and forthright in their training, train hard and with good attitude and are technically proficient, then there is the proof of good teaching.

07-24-2002, 12:34 PM
Sounds like you folks are talking about what makes a good leader...

So would you agree that being a true, or good teacher requires one to be a good leader?
They actually do come hand-in-hand. How could a teacher truly have a class if the students do not respect the teacher as a leader?
Does being a true teacher necessarily mean that one has to be the alpha wolf? The sort who's actions imply "been there, done that...now you go there and you do that."
The difference being a true and good leader is not being the alpha male. The alpha gained the position by being the strongest in the group, and more like taking the position through strength and intimidation instead of earning it. There are teachers like this, and they are not a good nor a true teacher, just bullies.
Course, just may be my antihistamines talking today... :freaky:
Maybe... maybe it's past midnight here, and I'm bored out of my head, and hunger strikes with a vengeance...

Paula Lydon
07-24-2002, 05:54 PM
Ah...busted by Steven Miranda! In the Chinese horoscope I'm a monkey, and every bit of it; love to get things going...

People have focused on the word 'true' and got me wondering why I used that instead of good. Okay, I've met many 'good' teachers, but I think 'true' means someone who touches me. Whatever those mysterious, subconscious dynamics are--all that everyone else has said--and then something that keeps me coming back. Don't even have to always like them...

A true teacher to me is also always a student. They allow their students so see/sense their own struggles and evolution; they exhibit the aiki in the moment, live the process itself and you are a part of it. They reach past physicallity.

Too esoteric? Thanks for the push, Steve!

"Live your life like an experiment" :)

David Worsley
08-19-2002, 03:43 PM
I concur completely, the truest teacher is and will always be a true student, but to that you must also add the empathy of having been there and still being on the journey.

Over the years I have found that its the students themselves who creat the truest teachers, individuals who understand that we are all different and require different styles of learning, instruction, even class room or dojo dynamics.

To be adaptable to the individuals needs. A good teacher is mirrored in their students, and yet is also a mirror for them to the future.

Not to profound i hope.

08-20-2002, 06:30 AM
I think the benefit we have in aikido now is there are so many different teachers. Training only with one teacher may give quite a narrow view of aikido and the students may emulate their teacher (and especially their mannerisms or behaviour), rather than developing their own abilities. I'd agree that a 'true' teacher is still a student of aikido - because these teachers are often open enough to redifine their teaching to fit in with the way you learn.

I've been wrangling myself with whether teaching basic techniques or blending is more important for beginners, and finally come to the conclusion that it is a balance, depending on how the students absorb the teaching (if technique is poor I teach them technique etc.)

Some teachers who were very poor in my past, are now very inspirational, because now I konw enough to understand what they are trying to teach. Aikido really is a journey, and the scenery changes as you progress.


mike lee
08-20-2002, 06:44 AM
They must be competent.

Jermaine Alley
09-10-2002, 12:20 PM
I think that Thalib reply is the best answer that i have seen for this question...

"The one that is a true student"...bravo..


09-22-2002, 06:46 AM
Hello, all! I was re-reading this topic and noticed the parallels being drawn between teaching and leadership; I thought I'd weigh in with my own two pennies.

Teaching and leadership are not the same. They're skills cut from the same cloth, but they are nevertheless very different, and require different training. It is of course entirely posiible to be both, and the best leaders and instructors are good at both skills; a student or subordinate would be very lucky indeed to have a person like this to learn from. but the skills are separate.

I'll give ya two examples: My Dad, and my first section commander, 'way back when I first joined the Army. Dad's a great teacher; he taught Printing and Pre-press for twenty years in college; he taught me how to work with film and page design. I learned to be a hard teacher from him; he was VERY tough on his students, there was very little room for sliding or messing around in his class. His attitude in labs was 'Do it right, or fail. your choice.' Sounds like a nightmare, and I suppose he was, but he was fun too - his classes were ALWAYS jam-packed with students; his dropout rate was virtually nil and of the school's job placement program, the vast majority of successful placements were his students. BUT - he wouldn't know how to lead a horse to water. Not even a thirsty one. He could run a class like the master he was, but lead people? No way; he's far too introverted for that; he'd have trouble running a shop floor - he never learned the skills required to be a good leader.

On the other side of the coin was my first Section Commander, Sergeant Whitehall. The meanest, toughest, soft-hearted old fraud you ever saw. We were scared to death of him, hated him, and just loved him to pieces. When he said 'jump' (correction - he never 'said' anything - he either hollered or growled it), we jumped because we wanted to make him happy - which he never was - and also because if we didn't, we'd be digging trenches 'till the cows came home. He was tough, but he was brilliant; a masterful tactician and instinctive leader. I am quite willing to say that I am alive today because of him; just enough of his superb example and canny knowledge rubbed off on me to save me in more than one bad situation. (literally - I have scars that show what would've happened if Id've been a tenth of a second slower.) BUT - Never ask him to teach a class; give the guy a lesson plan and stand him at the front of a class, he couldn't do it - he'd mumble away, reading out of the book, obviously wishing he were anyplace better - like a burning building.

(RIP, Sarge; take it easy on the angels, will ya?)

Anyway, I waxed lyrical again, I tend to when talking about two of my personal heroes. The point was to show how teaching and leadership differ; sorry if I rambled on. :)


mike lee
09-22-2002, 07:28 AM
The essence of a good teacher is that he ALWAYS remembers on whose shoulders he stands. :do:

Tadhg Bird
09-23-2002, 01:58 PM
What, in your opinion, makes a true teacher?
He's two feet tall, green, and lives in a swamp. :D

OK seriously, a "true" teacher is a clear conduit for learning. An embodiment of the material being taught. S/He leads a student to thier knowledge, but the responsibility to learn is ofcourse, the students.

09-23-2002, 04:27 PM
My father recently passed away. He was a professor of Biochemistry, and a true teacher in every sense of the word. While I know this forum is regarding aikido, I've been giving a lot of thought to my fathers legacy on me, and how his attitude towards teaching has affected me in all aspects of my life.

For his memorial, people flew in from all over the world; Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, as well as all over America. My mother has been receiving hundreds of condolence cards. Almost all the speakers at the memorial,as well as most of the cards, spoke of how he influenced these people in their lives; how he had mentored their training, and how he never ever made anyone feel like they were not important or in the least bit inferior to him. He always took a genuine interest in people and their work and helped however he could. He also had the dedication and the confidence to know that what he was doing was right for him and to stick by his principals at all times.

I could go on and on about how this man was a true teacher, but I think I'll just leave it at how his students and his colleages were moved by him, and how much he meant to them. If I can live up to even half his model as a teacher I will have done a good job.

As a student, as well as teacher, of aikido, I strive to do as he did. To be a positive influence in any way that I can, to be dedicated, and to have the confidence to know that training is right for me.

These are just some of my thoughts on what makes a teacher.