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Old 05-11-2006, 02:38 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 29
Questions re: mistaken presumptions

(I°«ll start with the questions Do you as instructors or seniors ever catch yourself using language, or realize that you normally use language, that the listeners may not be understanding? Also, do you, or when do you, get involved when a student appears to have an incomplete, lopsided, mistaken, or inconsistent grasp of certain concept words?

Perhaps a teacher may never say explicitly, °»Ikkyo is the name of this technique,°… but through the use of the word, the context, and putting two and two together, a student may figure out this thing they°«re doing is °»ikkyo.°… Not just °»ikkyo°… but more abstract, vaguer concepts like °»center°…, °»connect°…, °»opening°…, etc. could simply be °»figured out°… by students. In my experience, often students appear to have an incomplete, lopsided, mistaken, or inconsistent grasp of certain concept words that are used frequently by instructors. This is sometimes the case even when the students are fortunate enough to have exposure to instructors who can manifest those concepts well to one degree or another. More strikingly, many people seem to keep their mistaken, etc. grasp of the concepts for an exceedingly long time. This is circumstance would then seem to indicate that the process of °»putting two and two together°… is not working very well, especially when the student must rely all or mostly on his/her intrinsic capacities.

My personal experience leading to these questions: I was leading a small class comprised of beginner-level people. We were doing the following in seiza. I asked °»uke°… to push with one hand on the °»nage°«s°… shoulder. The person being pushed was at first free to make attempts to stay upright, then later to stay more or less upright and move their shoulder around. I asked the person pushing to try to continue to do so in a consistent manner i.e. keep constant pressure, even with the other person moving their shoulder. At some point I tried to elaborate by asking °»nage°… not to push with a rigid arm nor push so strongly that he/she unnecessarily tenses him/herself, and accordingly not let his/her hand slip off just because °»nage°… moves his/her shoulder. (I think) I demonstrated the not-slipping detail while saying something like, °»Do you see that I°«m still pushing toward partner/partner°«s center?°… I can°«t recall precisely how or when I used the word °»center°… but subsequently I noticed the students pushing somewhat randomly or haphazardly. Then I thought about how I had framed the activity. At the end I asked them, °»Earlier I asked you to push toward partner°«s °∆center°«. Did you understand what I meant, even when I showed it? What is your understanding of °∆center°«?°… No one had any answer.
I realized that, even more than I had thought previously, the abundant use of the words °»center°… and °»connect°… that I had observed in other classes were truly being not understood or misunderstood, in contrast to being in the process of becoming understood. I say it doesn°«t appear to be a process because I observe people °»working on°… the same things in the same ways for a strikingly long time. I believe that process, especially in people with less experience, is comprised of apparent change, both good and bad, with plenty of plateaus.
I understand the °»strikingly long time°… and °»plateaus°… are inherently subjective, so I ask you to contribute your subjective opinions.

My own reflections: The "best" way to convey many ideas is to convey the essence, specifically through lots of actual moving around. The concepts can supplement understanding by providing imaginary or hypothetical references. In order to realize those imaginary or hypothetical references however one must really move instead of only thinking or figuring out, then moving. Beginners of course cannot move (yet). So the concepts can be helpful. Teachers who cannot (or don°«t feel confident that they can) competently manifest the essence of the concepts lean toward explaining what they are doing, or how things should be done. With beginners and such teachers, we have an audience who is willing to listen without much question, and speakers who feel affirmed in doing things the way they°«re doing them. That is, the instructors do not realize in what ways they are leaving behind or keeping behind their students. The result is a cycle in which a clear line between the giver and receiver is perpetuated unwittingly.

Sorry for rambling and the abrupt end!
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