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Old 02-12-2015, 11:01 PM   #1
Brian Sutton
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Teaching as a separate skill.

I think alot of time we fall into the trap of seeing a teachers time on the mat and number of years of experience in the the martial arts ,automatically giving teaching credentials. Or another assumption is who the teachers teachers are. Assuming that relationship has given a person an ability to transfer a higher level of teaching. Without any knowledge of the nature of the relationship with that particular teacher or that teachers ability, or let's face it ,willingness to transfer knowledge. It never ceases to amaze me, why that assumption is made. The best teachers that I have found could teach anything. While I have met some really experienced and world class martial artists that would really be better off just continuing their training and living out their lives as really good martial artists. Is teaching a separate skill and what are some traits of that skill? Thoughts?
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Old 02-13-2015, 01:39 AM   #2
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
I think alot of time we fall into the trap of seeing a teachers time on the mat and number of years of experience in the the martial arts ,automatically giving teaching credentials. Or another assumption is who the teachers teachers are. Assuming that relationship has given a person an ability to transfer a higher level of teaching. Without any knowledge of the nature of the relationship with that particular teacher or that teachers ability, or let's face it ,willingness to transfer knowledge. It never ceases to amaze me, why that assumption is made. The best teachers that I have found could teach anything. While I have met some really experienced and world class martial artists that would really be better off just continuing their training and living out their lives as really good martial artists. Is teaching a separate skill and what are some traits of that skill? Thoughts?
A large percentage of people in any sport are just not cut out to be a teacher. They may become a teacher, but that does not mean they can successfully impart knowledge efficiently. Common sense sorts it out.

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Old 02-13-2015, 02:37 AM   #3
kewms
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Teaching is absolutely a distinct skill. No matter what the sport, the very top athletes very rarely become top coaches. In academia there is, if anything, a negative correlation between brilliance and ability to teach. I don't have any studies to back it up, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the best teachers are those for whom the subject matter didn't come easily: in learning how to teach themselves, they also learned how to teach others.

The very best teachers that I've encountered -- regardless of subject -- have all spent a lot of time breaking down their own understanding, developing ways to explain or demonstrate specific points, developing exercises that allow the student to focus on the specific skill being taught. All above and beyond the work they've put into mastering the skill themselves in the first place. Dedicating the time and energy to do that requires believing that teaching is a genuinely important and valuable thing to do of itself, rather than "the thing I have to do to support my own studies."

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 02-13-2015 at 02:40 AM.
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Old 02-13-2015, 05:30 AM   #4
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Teaching requires different skillset than executing what is taught.
Not every football/soccer coach can actually play.
Teaching requires thorough knowledge of the subject at hand and requires the skills to bring your knowledge (and experience) across. You need to be sensitive to the audience, how to 'reach' them.
You must be able to separate specific aspects of the subject and deliver them to you audience.

In Aikido you work with a partner. Depending on the experience (skillevel) he helps you or you help him, the basic teacher/student relation. So I think it is fair to say that an Aikido teacher has developed (polished?) his teaching skill over years simply by studying Aikido. But that does not for a good teacher. That is really another level.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 02-13-2015, 07:55 AM   #5
lbb
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

The reason why the very top athletes rarely become coaches, IMO, has little to do with the skill set and everything to do with better opportunities being available elsewhere.
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Old 02-13-2015, 10:53 AM   #6
kewms
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
The reason why the very top athletes rarely become coaches, IMO, has little to do with the skill set and everything to do with better opportunities being available elsewhere.
Such as?

After their playing days are over, I mean.

Granted, a top professional athlete will generally have made enough money that he doesn't have to do much of anything for the rest of his life. (Assuming decent financial management.) But I'm not sure I (or they) would agree that "TV analyst" or "commercial pitchman" are better opportunities than "defensive/offensive coordinator" or "head coach."

Katherine
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Old 02-13-2015, 11:11 AM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Totally different skill set. A gifted teacher can teach almost any subject in which he has some experience and a lively interest.

Janet Rosen
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Old 02-13-2015, 02:09 PM   #8
lbb
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Such as?
Just about anything you can think of. Coaching pays poorly except at the very top levels of the most highly paid sports.
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:53 PM   #9
Robert Cowham
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

I agree that personal skill does not necessarily equal teaching ability. This is from personal experience as well as observation/reading etc.

There are people who may not be able to do things to a certain level for reasons including their own physical challenges. And yet they can teach others to do more than they can do themselves.

I have experienced aikido teachers who can demonstrate significant skills themselves, and yet their ability to train others to similar levels is, by observation over many years, limited.

On a different tack, there are people who are "naturals" and themselves have problems understanding why other peopl can't do stuff. Plenty of stories on this front.

After all, Usain Bolt's coach can't run as fast, and yet he can help Bolt do it...
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:07 PM   #10
Brian Sutton
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Just about anything you can think of. Coaching pays poorly except at the very top levels of the most highly paid sports.
I would never suggest someone teach as a means to a financial end. Although, in the United States, a good product with good marketing could reap financial rewards as well as notoriety and the success of doing what you love. Ever heard of Joe Corley? So have I. Ever heard of Sam so and so who was promoted to the corner office? Me neither, but money and martial arts is a separate rant. What I am referring to are the intrinsic qualities that separate an individual that is able to teach the nuances as well as the basics of an art in a class filled with a first time beginner and a twenty year student , with someone who is very skilled in performing an art, but just can't transfer the knowledge they have. For me it's one of those truths that are hidden in plain sight. I can see a clear difference, but am not always sure what makes the difference. I think the ability to teach skillfully is one of the greatest gifts a person can have,because it ensures the prolongation of the art in it's highest integrity.

Last edited by Brian Sutton : 02-13-2015 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:41 PM   #11
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Totally different skill set. A gifted teacher can teach almost any subject in which he has some experience and a lively interest.
Absolutely !

In a previous high school I worked at they gave the school badminton team to a lady in economics. No one else wanted it, so I heard. She won back to back national championships for seven years running. She was just the coach - not even sure if she played. Probably still doing it for all I know. Many high school teachers can apply their skills elsewhere. Their 'skill' is vastly under-rated.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 02-13-2015 at 04:49 PM.

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Old 02-13-2015, 05:05 PM   #12
Inushishi
 
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
Brian Sutton wrote: View Post
I think alot of time we fall into the trap of seeing a teachers time on the mat and number of years of experience in the the martial arts ,automatically giving teaching credentials.
Teaching is a separete skill, yeah i agree 100% with that.

On the other hand i would argue that in bujutsu the instructor/sensei isn't a teacher in the western way at all. If we look at the Kanji for shihan 師範 we see both we can translate that as example and model.
So in that learn paradigma the responsibility for the transfer of knowledge is quite heavy on the students site to be a suitable vessel and to give enough effort to learn.

I would also argue another problem in learning bujutsu/budô today is a very poor body awareness overall trough all of the population.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:56 PM   #13
JP3
 
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

My main aikido instructor always said, "In order to understand a technique fully, you have to attempt to teach it to someone else. It makes your brain work differently."

I've found that to be true. And, different people hear different things in different ways, so you have to have multiple ways of explaining things to get through to all of them. it isn't easy. It is fun most of the time, though.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 02-14-2015, 09:18 AM   #14
barron
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
René Esemann wrote: View Post
Teaching is a separete skill, yeah i agree 100% with that.

I would also argue another problem in learning bujutsu/budô today is a very poor body awareness overall trough all of the population.
How true! I have coached in many sports at the school, National and International levels, and even with top athletes if they have only participated in one sport in their formative years, rather than having a well rounded background which allows for the development of good kinesthetic skills, they lacked the body awareness required to alter their body movement patterns/correct their technique as well as the ability to watch a skill being demonstrated and copy it.

Most members of dojos do not have an extensive training background which makes the job of the instructor so important to allow the students to develop their movement/coordination/body awareness skills over time in a positive/supportive atmosphere. The challenge is the time required to help the participant to learn these skills without getting frustrated and quitting. Many will move on because it is beyond either their abilities or time they are willing to put in to achieve a degree of skill.

This reinforces to me that kihon (basic) exercises (tai sabaki etc.) and basic techniques cannot be overlooked or undervalued in instruction as they will form the building blocks for advanced practice.

Cheers

Andrew Barron
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:17 PM   #15
nikyu62
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Quote:
John Powell wrote: View Post
My main aikido instructor always said, "In order to understand a technique fully, you have to attempt to teach it to someone else. It makes your brain work differently."

I've found that to be true. And, different people hear different things in different ways, so you have to have multiple ways of explaining things to get through to all of them. it isn't easy. It is fun most of the time, though.
My sensei and i agree with this. Due to having a small group and few yudansha, me and my peers were introduced to assisting with classes after a couple of years of training. Advanced kyu ranks were expected to be able to lead exercises and conduct classes if necessary. This was helpful as it fell to me,in order to continue my practice, to introduce aikido in my area.
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Old 02-14-2015, 06:37 PM   #16
Currawong
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Re: Teaching as a separate skill.

Rupert's story reminds me of a story about the second Doshu when he was visiting the USA (I think it was). He saw someone playing golf and, despite him not playing it himself, offered some advice to the man on his posture or swing, I forget which, the result of which was the man's golf improving considerably.
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