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Learning, Teaching, Repeat
Learning, Teaching, Repeat
by Lynn Seiser
12-24-2013
Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Breathe in, learning
Breathe out, teaching
Repeat

After our morning training, we often go for coffee. In these "mumblings from the 6:00 AM morning mat", we began to discuss the process of learning and teaching.
Learning: (1) the process of gaining and acquiring knowledge, experience, and/or skills, (2) knowledge, (3) education, (4) scholarship, (5) culture, (6) wisdom, (7) finding out, (8) memorizing, (9) to study or train, (10) discover, (11) realize, (12) understand
They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Every wonder how we actually learn? We all somewhat assume it's a natural process that everyone does. Yet, many people do struggle with it. We all somewhat assume that others learn the same way we do. Yet, many people learn differently and learn different skills better than others. If someone asked you how you specifically learned, could you tell them?

Some say we learn what is reinforced as useful and relevant in that specific learning context. Some say we learn by what we associate and identify with. Some say we learn what we feel and do. Some people think we learn when we are ready to learn and not until.
Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead. Morihei Ueshiba
I grew up with a learning handicap. I was an auditory learner. Couldn't get my head around this reading and spelling thing. It seemed if I heard it, I could learn it. But if I saw it, I could not. I wish someone had taught me how to learn before they started throwing the content at me and trusted me to figure it out myself. Process before content please. Principle before technique.

When asked which is the most important piece in a jig-saw puzzle, many people would give different answers depending on how they organize their thinking. Some would say the corners and others would say the edges and others would work from the center in. I think the most important piece (for me) was the cover. Do you learn by putting the smaller pieces together and see what unfolds or do you learn from seeing the big picture and where the small pieces fit. Perhaps we are different in the sequencing of our learning.

There is the generic content-free process of what we learn and there is the content of what we learn. If we have a generic content-free learning process we can put almost any content (including skills) into it and learn it. Perhaps we need to think of something we learned easily and do well, and remember specifically how we did that.

Some believe that learning is "garbage in -- garbage out". This idea suggests that we take something in through our sense organs (eyes, ears, skin), code and store it in that sensory modality (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Then we let it out by showing it, talking about it, or just by doing it.

A traditional way to learning Aikido was to watch the teacher demonstrate a technique a few times and then "steal the technique" and make it your own as best you could from your own experience of imitating the instructor. This would be more of a see and then do learning strategy. But if you are not a visual or kinesthetic learner, this may not be effective.
Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. Morihei Ueshiba
Many suggest we learn from "trial and error" but seldom do we learn from "trial and success". Some believe we learn by making reference to past learning but others contend that would only teach us something we already know. Some believe we need to find the right learning strategy for the right learning task/skill. Perhaps learning is as much a science or art as it is a mystery.
Teaching: (1) the process of imparting knowledge, (2) to given lessons in a subject, (3) to make somebody understand something, (4) to advocate something, (5) to educate, lecture, instruct, coach, or train, (5) to explain, show, demonstrate, and clarify
They say when the teacher is ready to teach, the student will appear.

We can argue that experience is the best teacher. Yet many people just repeat past experiences and never appear to learn from them. They saw we are our own best teacher. Yet how can we learn anything new when all we have to teach is what we already know? We often teach the way we were taught whether that matches our teaching style or the learning strategy of our students. We are beings of habit.

Life and learning is a conversation. Communication theory would suggest that there is the sender, the receiver, and the message. In this context, that would be the teacher, the student, and what is being taught. We can make a presupposition that the meaning of communication is the response it elicits and a good communicator (teacher) will send the message (content) in a way that the receiver (student) can get the meaning. In that communication model, once a message is sent, feedback is gathered by the effect on the listener, and the message sent is modified until the correct effect is elicited.
Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything - even mountains, rivers, plants and trees - should be your teacher. Morihei Ueshiba
Remember we talked earlier about processing information (learning) through and with our sensory organs and organizations. Perhaps the clearest and most congruent communication would incorporate and integrate all three. Perhaps we can show, tell, and do. We can see it done (demonstrated), hear the instructions (told what to do), and then do it.
Repeat: (1) to say, do, or undergo something again, (2) to echo, (3) recurring, (4) uniform reproduction of a pattern, (5) to replicate, duplicate, or reiterate
In a western world of quick-fixes and instant-enlightenment, very few things are acquired on our first attempt. Research supports 3,000 to 30,000 practice attempts may be necessary before something is neurologically wired in. This includes both the muscular movements of the body and the cognitive neuropathways of the brain.
Progress comes to those who train and train; reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere. Morihei Ueshiba
They often say in Aikido to just train and eventually you will get it. Yet, there are practitioners who have 1 years' worth of learning 10 times rather than 10 years of learning experience. We do not get better by repeatedly practicing what is wrong. We only improve by repeatedly training in newer and deeper understanding of what we are attempting to do in the direction we are trying to go.

They say we never step in the same stream twice because the moving water is always different. Perhaps we never repeat the same training twice unless we are standing still in stagnant water. We can struggle by swimming upstream against the current or learn to relax and flow with the direction and pace of the stream. The Hopi Indians would say that we should not much the stream because if flows all by itself.
The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit. Morihei Ueshiba
Perhaps the teacher and the student are just in a continual communication loop constantly trading sides and learning from teaching and teaching from learning. Perhaps the learning and the teaching stop when we stop communication and cut off the conversation. When the teacher stops learning they actually stop teaching.

What is the most important lesson we can learn from others and that we can teach each other?

Breathe in, learning
Breathe out, teaching
Repeat

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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Old 12-25-2013, 07:57 PM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Good stuff, Lynn-san... I learn by absorption. Put me in a tub of knowledge, and some small amount is bound to soak in through the many cracks...
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Old 12-25-2013, 10:26 PM   #3
jurasketu
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Very nice, Sensei.

"Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead."

Strangely enough, I came across that concept as a younger man (circa 1985) in a book The Films of Akira Kurosawa. In the commentary on Sanshiro Sugata (the titular hero is a judoka), the author, Donald Richie, lays out the thesis that Kurosawa villains were invariably "completed" persons. They are villains precisely because they have stopped growing. They might as well be dead. That insight strongly affected me then and now.

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
AWA - Shodan - Started Aikido training in 2008
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Old 12-26-2013, 04:42 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I learn by absorption. Put me in a tub of knowledge, and some small amount is bound to soak in through the many cracks...
I so agree.

I enjoy being in the company of those who know so much more than I do.

Slow and steady ... I am the turtle ...

As always, thanks for being one of those I consistently learn from ...

See you at the Orlando Bridge ...

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-26-2013, 04:47 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Quote:
Robin Johnson wrote: View Post
Strangely enough, I came across that concept as a younger man (circa 1985) in a book The Films of Akira Kurosawa. In the commentary on Sanshiro Sugata (the titular hero is a judoka), the author, Donald Richie, lays out the thesis that Kurosawa villains were invariably "completed" persons. They are villains precisely because they have stopped growing. They might as well be dead. That insight strongly affected me then and now.
Yes agreed.

When we stop learning, we stay at an immature development stage of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Perhaps eventually, we will see though the illusions of ignorance and learn/identify with more positive/healthy role models.

This requires an belief in the underlying goodness of humans and their natural progression towards wholeness, health, and happiness.

Thanks for reading, responding, and sharing space and time on the mat.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:13 PM   #6
crbateman
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
As always, thanks for being one of those I consistently learn from ...

See you at the Orlando Bridge ...
Awww, shucks...

Yes, at The Bridge. Always a pleasure to share time and space!
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
Dave Sampson
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Thanks for the read. You took my brain on a circle.

One thing that stopped me dead in my tracks though was this :... The Hopi Indians would say that we should not much the stream because if flows all by itself.

Is this a typo or did you really mean to say that?

I know indians, if you meant the native american ones that is, can be rather cryptic at times but this just threw a spanner in the works for me and stopped me dead in my tracks.

Even if it is correct it still does not make sense to me. Chalk it up to being a brit i guess as our language is still quite different than yours.

Thanks for your time
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:52 AM   #8
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Quote:
Dave Sampson wrote: View Post
One thing that stopped me dead in my tracks though was this :... The Hopi Indians would say that we should not much the stream because if flows all by itself. Is this a typo or did you really mean to say that?
Yes agreed, even with proof-reading there can be typos ...

"Don't push the river, it flows by itself."

Thanks for bringing it to my attention...

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:15 PM   #9
Berney Fulcher
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

"Yet, there are practitioners who have 1 years' worth of learning 10 times rather than 10 years of learning experience."

A trap that is very hard to get out of, I think.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:26 AM   #10
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning, Teaching, Repeat

Quote:
Berney Fulcher wrote: View Post
"Yet, there are practitioners who have 1 years' worth of learning 10 times rather than 10 years of learning experience." A trap that is very hard to get out of, I think.
Yes, sadly agree.

I remember being at a seminar and someone asked why they were still teaching the same thing and not moved on to more advanced stuff. The instructor said it was because they had not learned this stuff and it must be learned well enough to be a basis/foundation for the next.

I think this happen we when we get stuck in the way we have always done it.

We are such creatures of habit.

I always find our training and conversations stimulating to want to keep improving. I always appreciate sharing space and time on the mat and over coffee with you.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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