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aikishihan 05-03-2009 12:42 AM

Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
*Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts*

Put simply, I see *Instruction* as being primarily focused on the study material, the very system for students to assimilate, eventually incorporate, and apply. Effective instructors rely on their own knowledge and confidence in their skill set, experience, and positive history of obtaining good results. It is a great place to start, as most students require such direction and follow up, regardless of the discipline or course of study. Great instructors exemplify enlightened purpose, superhuman effort and unyielding dedication over a lifetime of study and application of their craft.

*Teaching*, in my experience, certainly requires accurate direction and instruction of both basic and advanced techniques, theories, along with the requisite "trials by error", on the part of students, as well as for the instructor as well. Yet, the art of teaching also includes the study and evaluation of the students themselves, their inner needs, true abilities and levels of motivation to excel. A teacher, then, must be in tune with the thoughts, self images and the unique challenges the students will encounter in their studies. A true teacher must remain a true student as well.

All too often, I have observed, and utilized myself, an arbitrary yardstick with which to gauge the progress, and to evaluate a student's results from training. This measuring gauge is often based on how the instructor himself was trained and instructed in years past, and not necessarily subject to more objective or universally accepted standards of acceptability and appropriateness.

If our methods of self evaluation prove too faulty, perhaps we need to address this deficiency by studying the art and science of teaching more honestly and intensively. Perhaps then, our expertise in a given area, will prove to be even more beneficial and useful to our students. Don't we owe our students better and more complete versions of ourselves? Don't we owe ourselves and our mentors the same commitment too?

I accept that it is possible to become both an effective and valued instructor, as well as a mature and wise teacher over time. It is also evident, that a separate but equally intense commitment must be made to becoming so, remaining "works in progress", even as our worthy students themselves strive to be. It may well be that this very example of humility and personal dedication to growth, will, in turn, inspire our students to accept such a lesson for themselves, as they also grow and become.

Odds are, that most attempts will result in achieving only one dimension, without the other. If so, this is not failure, but a humble acceptance of our human limitations.

Being kind to others, actually begins with being consistently kind and forgiving of ourselves. Could this be what the late Shoji Nishio Shihan meant by his "Yurusu Budo"? Methinks it might.

The study of the Way is not merely an exploration, or a series of explorations. It is not simply "a phase" we go through, on our path to maturity and self discovery. Rather, it is a pact we make with our inner self, that is unconditional, has no expiration date, and we may never quit at anytime, for any reason. It is the reason.

Shidogeiko, roughly translates into "training through teaching". It is a key component of the entire spectrum of training we choose to undertake. As such, it deserves the very best effort we can give, even as we give no less to any of the other areas of "keiko" we wholeheartedly undergo on a daily basis.

Instructor or Teacher, in the end, it matters little to an outside observer.

It means the Universe, however, to the Teacher, and to the Student.

Gambatte kudasai!

Mary Eastland 05-03-2009 07:27 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Thank you...I needed to read this just at this time.

In the moment as I practice all is focused...
in the moment as I teach all is focused.
Off the mat what I think about what is taught or practiced is not important.
Th universe is in the moment.

Mary

gdandscompserv 05-03-2009 09:07 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Francis Takahashi wrote: (Post 229428)
I accept that it is possible to become both an effective and valued instructor, as well as a mature and wise teacher over time. It is also evident, that a separate but equally intense commitment must be made to becoming so, remaining "works in progress", even as our worthy students themselves strive to be. It may well be that this very example of humility and personal dedication to growth, will, in turn, inspire our students to accept such a lesson for themselves, as they also grow and become.

Very nice Sensei.
Thank You,
Ricky
:D

Charles Hill 05-03-2009 05:04 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Hello,

Thank you for the post.

How specifically do you recommend one "study(ing) the art and science of teaching more honestly and intensively"?

Charles

aikishihan 05-03-2009 08:57 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Charles Hill wrote: (Post 229465)
Hello,

Thank you for the post.

How specifically do you recommend one "study(ing) the art and science of teaching more honestly and intensively"?

Charles

Greetings, and thank you for your interest.

I have found learning, as well as instructing, to be habits cultivated by committed and prolonged repetition of the fundamentals of your chosen craft, science or philosophy. It has to be your own choice.

The stronger and more internalized the habits, the more resonance you will produce when sharing. The purpose of living, is that it must always be about your own life's choices. Ask not of others what interests you, inspires you, or even defines you. There is no more qualified person to help you every day than the person in the mirror,

He knows, and has always known.

When I referred to "studying the art and science of teaching", I did not allude to an independent course of study to do just that. Rather, by committing to the areas you truly will devote yourself to, you will naturally encounter experiences, mentors and methods that you will recognize, almost on a cellular level. Seek within, if you really want to win. By seeking primarily outside yourself, you are likely to continue cultivating even more doubt, and reluctance to act.

Trust the Teacher within. All the rest are merely your assistant instructors, regardless of accomplishments or relationship to you.

There is no other advice I can give, other than to search your own sense of correctness regarding your mission in life, and trust the fundamentals that are there. Feel free to "steal" all you can, from wherever and whomever you can. After all, taking a few things, probably is theft. Taking a lot of things, is really research.

People tend to take you at your word, all other things being equal.

If you say that "you can", they will try to assist you. If you say that you cannot, and will not try, then they will simply move on.

I hope you choose, and research, wisely.

In Oneness

Rob Watson 05-04-2009 01:12 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
SNIP "... objective or universally accepted standards of acceptability and appropriateness."

Without such all that is left is arbitrary. Where can one find such a 'yardstick' ?

SeiserL 05-05-2009 02:56 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Osu Sensei,

Thank you for your thoughts. Always instructional, insightful, and inspirational.

I often found life to be both a craft and an art. First one must learn the craft before one can learn the art. Many go to the art first and wonder why nothing comes.

If we choose wisely, we can find someone who can teach us the craft, and pushes us towards to edge of learning the art. But we must take that leap and learn the art ourselves.

I often tell people that when they let the mental chatter of the learned ego identity go quiet, then they already know the truth and what is the right thing to do. Also in training, if I quiet my own self-absorption, I can hear/feel where my training partner is and respond appropriately.

I have only begun to teach/instruct/share and look forward to your continued thoughts.

Rei, Domo.

aikishihan 05-05-2009 05:47 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Dear Seiser Sensei,

Kudos to your commitment to staying "green and growing", having the courage to challenge your own sense of expectations, doubts and ego enhanced confidence, that we all have to individually endure, persevere with and, hopefully, overcome in time. That is the key word, TIME, isn't it? After all, that is the dimension in which all happens, where all questions are answered.

I agree that our growth path meanders through differing layers and levels of knowledge, understanding and wonder. Isn't the late Doshu's admonition to commit to daily training in the Way, as true today as it ever was. Training on the mat is important. Training in your mind is crucial, as it requires a 24/7 effort.

Looking forward to the gems you have in your imagination and consciousness, and to discuss principles of Aiki!

In Oneness,

francis

Amassus 05-16-2009 04:07 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
I am a secondary school teacher in New Zealand and what is being described in the initial post is what we call "reflective practice". Good teachers must always look to better themselves for the sake of their students. I'm sure this is where beginner's mind fits in as well. Be open and attentive to new ways of knowing and you cannot help but become a great teacher.

Walter Martindale 05-23-2009 03:29 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Dean Suter wrote: (Post 230232)
I am a secondary school teacher in New Zealand and what is being described in the initial post is what we call "reflective practice". Good teachers must always look to better themselves for the sake of their students. I'm sure this is where beginner's mind fits in as well. Be open and attentive to new ways of knowing and you cannot help but become a great teacher.

In the sports community it is called deliberate practice. 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to "master" something. "deliberate practice" is that which is done while actually paying attention to what you're doing, and not having a side conversation about yesterday's party while looking like you might be practicing (say) Ikkyo.

I view a coaching position as one where the coach guides the athlete through discovering how to do something. To some extent, the system of showing a technique four times and then saying "please practice," with our without the name of the attack and technique, is an approximation of this observational (and perhaps "intrinsic") learning.

In my work, if a crew of beginning rowers is "sitting" angled down on one side or the other (an "eight" is 18 meters or almost 60 feet long and only about 60 cm or two feet wide), instead of telling them to move their oar handles to make the boat sit level, I'll ask them (sometimes repeatedly) "What do you have to do to make the boat level - look around, what do you (etc.)" They figure it out in a few minutes. I've found over the years that this works much better than telling individuals to raise or lower their oar handles. They've figured out the solution, rather than me telling them. FWIW, I've changed the way I coach rowing since starting Aikido in 1993.
W

Rocky Izumi 07-05-2009 07:19 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
My view of instruction, teaching and coaching seems to differ at bit.

Instruction - you have a curriculum that is general and normatively accepted as "standard". It is probably not your syllabus but you are providing others with a way of learning the "standard syllabus".

Teaching - you are providing the students with learnings based on your own personal knowledge and experience. This is normative but is based on your personal curriculum and my not be a "standard syllabus" for anyone but the teacher.

Coaching - you provide the students with a multiplicity of approaches and knowledge so that they can experience what they need to in order to learn for themselves and by themselves through their own experiences and study. There is no standard syllabus since each student is different and learns differently and wants and needs to learn different things. It is outcome based and the outcomes people need from their training depends on what they want and need.

I have never been a very good teacher. I have had a set of experiences different from everyone else and see the world differently than most other people. I don't like standard syllabii but follow them to some degree to have some standardization so I am not a good instructor. I am a damned good coach. The problem is that all my students' aikido all differ and they all think they have the "right way". Many do not understand that the "right way" differs from person to person and time to time. There is no single "right way". So, many students find it very difficult to study with me because I give them so many options and they have to take the time and trouble to study them all and chose what they need to learn. I've thrown the responsibility of learning on to the student and many don't like that since they feel that they are paying me to teach them something. The problem is, I'm probably paying more to give them the lessons than they are paying to take them. Hah! :D

And all that applies to business education and other sports as well as Aikido. Oh well. I yam what I yam cuz I'm Popeye the Sailor Man! :freaky:

Rock

Lyle Bogin 07-06-2009 11:19 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Teaching martial art is more like being a "professor" than a "teacher". When professors encounter students they expect a willingness to engage in the material and a certain level of selfmotivation as the students invest in their learning. Teachers must expect to encounter resistance on a fundamental level and are expected by their superiors to teach everyone no matter what.

Martial arts teachers can eliminate dangerous or disrespectful students. Sometimes they can even get away with dishing out a serious beating. Teachers must eat it from the kid, then the defensive parent.

There are of ofcourse many great moments of learning in teaching anything. But teaching martial arts is gentle even with it's risks. That is of ofcourse unless you want to make a living. :)

George S. Ledyard 07-14-2009 07:34 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Charles Hill wrote: (Post 229465)
Hello,

Thank you for the post.

How specifically do you recommend one "study(ing) the art and science of teaching more honestly and intensively"?

Charles

My own opinion on this has two aspects. Get out and about. Train with as many great people as possible. If you like the content from one teacher or the technique of another, take it and make it yours. There are so many miraculous people out there. Some of them know how to convey their magic. Take your lead from them; not in imitation of them but as a way to manifest something that they do which touched something in you.

The other side is what Francis said... find out who you are as a student in relation to your art and let that guide you to become more yourself as a teacher. I can honestly say that I don't think there is any time when I feel more genuine, more in touch with myself, more in tune with those around me, more connected to my art as when I am out on the mat doing my thing with a group of students hungry for knowledge. I feel like I was "born to do this".

I think that if you genuinely love to learn and have the overwhelming desire to share what you learn with others, you can have that same feeling.

Aiki LV 04-04-2010 12:09 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
I read this post last night and have been seriously pondering it. I've been trying to think of a way to articulate my thoughts on Instruction vs. Teaching. I think the best way is for me to relate it to my own personal experiences.

For me, the first thing that comes to mind was a decision I had to make a few years ago. I had been training in aikido with a club that was unfortunately going to be coming to an end. It was at this point that I started putting serious thought into the idea of starting my own dojo and becoming a teacher again (previous to this I had not taught aikido for about nine years). The funny thing is it was not the instruction in technique that gave me pause, it was taking on the responsibility for other people. Teaching technique to people is the easy part (well most of the time), the hard part is being a good teacher to these people. It made me realize that in order to really know these people they would in turn get to know me also. This meant I had to be an example. If I was going to aide them on their journey to becoming better people I was going to have to work at being a better person myself. Being a teacher is easy when things are going really well. It is much harder when at times you must be brutally honest with people and tell them things they might not want to hear.

Now as a teacher and a student I am a work in progress, just as they are. I try to see them not only for what they are today, but for who they were and what I know they can become.

I hope my rambling made sense to someone out there.

Thank you Takahashi Sensei for sharing your thoughts and insights with us.

-Mindy-

edshockley 10-23-2011 10:40 PM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
I believe that O"Sensei is wiser than us all. Aikido is a philosophy translated into movement. When I demonstrate tenchi nage and describe that "heaven seeks heave, earth seeks earth and they meet in man (hara/tanden) the it is Morihei Ueshiba guiding the student as I simply demonstrate a technique. "Move off the line" "yield when pushed..." World over we have heard his philosophies spoken in every dojo and demonstrated in every technique. I suspect that if you introduce technique to your students with a minimum of explanation then you will provide everything that they need.

kewms 10-24-2011 12:18 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Ed Shockley wrote: (Post 295115)
I believe that O"Sensei is wiser than us all. Aikido is a philosophy translated into movement. When I demonstrate tenchi nage and describe that "heaven seeks heave, earth seeks earth and they meet in man (hara/tanden) the it is Morihei Ueshiba guiding the student as I simply demonstrate a technique. "Move off the line" "yield when pushed..." World over we have heard his philosophies spoken in every dojo and demonstrated in every technique. I suspect that if you introduce technique to your students with a minimum of explanation then you will provide everything that they need.

Hmmm.

Of the students who have been taught that way, how many have even achieved the level of their teachers, much less surpassed them?

The pedagogical success of "traditional" aikido teaching methods appears to me to be mixed at best.

Katherine

Chris Li 10-24-2011 01:58 AM

Re: Instruction vs. Teaching, some thoughts
 
Quote:

Ed Shockley wrote: (Post 295115)
I believe that O"Sensei is wiser than us all. Aikido is a philosophy translated into movement. When I demonstrate tenchi nage and describe that "heaven seeks heave, earth seeks earth and they meet in man (hara/tanden) the it is Morihei Ueshiba guiding the student as I simply demonstrate a technique. "Move off the line" "yield when pushed..." World over we have heard his philosophies spoken in every dojo and demonstrated in every technique. I suspect that if you introduce technique to your students with a minimum of explanation then you will provide everything that they need.

Then wouldn't students of Daito-ryu, which contains virtually all the same techniques, naturally begin practicing Ueshiba's philosophy? If not, then why not?

Then again, what if much of the "philosophy" actually contained important technical information. Information without which it would be difficult or impossible to actually do more than just copy the outer form?

Best,

Chris


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