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Old 05-02-2009, 11:42 PM   #1
Dojo: aikido academy/alhambra,california
Location: Los Angeles, California
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 371
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!
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