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Old 06-13-2012, 09:58 AM   #1
Chuck Clark
 
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Teaching .... I have a question.

I read something recently that brought up a question in my mind.

I've been around for awhile and have heard many different ideas about this... What is your understanding about: "teaching credentials" or something like "teaching certification", "permission to teach" etc.? Of course there are a variety of different ways this is done by different organizations and teachers, and, then there are individuals that just decided to teach others what they know. I'd like to see what others know and think about this subject.

Regards,

Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #2
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Greetings Shihan,

I trained in your organization under Russell Waddell in the 1990's. Great memories.

And an interesting question....

Regards,

Chris Parkerson
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
MM
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

It seems to vary from organization to organization in the martial arts. I guess for some organizations, it's traditional. For some, they've implemented things like this to appear more traditional. For some, it's just a way of recognizing people for training, achievements, years of service, etc. Course, there's always the McDojo's with all the patches and certifications.

When it matters, I think people ask someone that they know about this kind of stuff. Or they listen to people that they trust. I could be Roppodai Menkyo Great Grandmaster Soke Poobah with a Nijuichidan Hanshi Teacher's Certificate, but it wouldn't mean anything.

Personally, I have a shodan certificate signed by you, Stan Connors, Steve Duncan, and a few others and it means a lot to me. It was the quality of the people which made that certificate important, not the titles they held.

IMO,
Mark
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #4
Garth Jones
Dojo: Allegheny Aikido
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

My personal experience has been the 'teach because you have to' credential. My wife and I had to open a dojo in order to keep training. To keep the dojo going, we kind of have to teach the classes. This was all done in consultation with our teacher, who was very encouraging. That being said, we don't have any formal teaching credentials other than our aikido rank.

Cheers,
Garth

PS I think Mark has the right idea. It's time to make myself a certificate proclaiming that I am a 10th Dan Great Uber Grandmaster of All Space Time....
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:18 PM   #5
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

The iconoclast that I am, I dream of a day when teaching is a shared thing where the Socratic method allows one individual to assist another in self discovery; where holarchy replaces hierarchy, where we all laugh and smile with authentic recognition of our divine oneness.

Rank and titles are as much a prison as they are a license. If there is a grand pubah, we are it.

Three cheers for Ikkyu

Chris
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:02 PM   #6
Benjamin Green
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Depends whether you want to teach within an organisation or not. If you are teaching with an organisation, that's the guy running that organisation's reputation on the line; if you turn out to be ill-suited to it, he looks bad. So, in those conditions, it's only polite that you play by his rules; whatever they happen to be.

As for striking out and setting up your own club - you don't need a qualification. However, I would strongly advise you to take an NVQ or something in coaching.

The ability to do a thing really isn't the same as the ability to teach it. If you can't gives examples of different ways of phrasing things, different ways of motivating people, different ways of assessing and giving them feedback on their progress - and most importantly of how those interact with different personality types, different learning styles and different goals that your potential students might have - then I urge you in the strongest possible terms to do what you can to get that knowledge. Read about coaching, read about management, take a vocational qualification.

Unless you're a natural, you will do much better if you have some insight into all that before you try to start teaching, rather than learning it the hard way. Some people never learn it; there are a lot of clubs out there with a handful of members, run by people who have absolutely no idea how to teach effectively and don't know why they're not more successful.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:30 AM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Someone mentioned to me that a yudansha certificate means that the holder has the right to teach. Another wrote about a teaching credential at shodan level... this is the sort of thing I'd like to find out if it's real or just assumed by certain people, groups, organizations, etc. I know that various koryu have different levels of instructing that are possible and of course, formal levels of teaching authority. How about other organizations?

Mark, your feelings about your certificate is how I've always felt also. It's the only thing that really gives it any value in my opinion.

Chris, I agree. We kinda have that sort of thing going on in our various dojo now and especially when we get a large group together for gasshuku.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:13 AM   #8
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

The AAA conducts instructor's seminars frequently and awards various certifications, related to rank. As I recall, from 3rd kyu to shodan is "Jyoshu" (Instructor's Assistant), shodan to nidan are awarded "Fukushidoin" (Assistant Instructor), sandan are awarded "Shidoin" (Instructor) and yondan and above are awarded "Sensei" certifications. I don't know if there is some supposed authority conveyed with each level. I know of at least one shodan who opened his own dojo under the umbrella of the AAA. My understanding is that all yudansha ranks are awarded after testing before a Regional Test Committee and that individual dojo cho may not award rank beyond ikkyu.

The instructor's seminars are conducted by the Regional Training Committees and focus on the techniques of teaching. There is considerable emphasis on showing "tricks of the trade" for dealing with specific problems students frequently encounter.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-15-2012, 02:50 AM   #9
batemanb
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

In the UK, many individual associations belong to the British Aikido Board. The BAB purpose is to set guidelines intending to create a high standard of Aikido coaching that it's member associations conform to, whilst still remaining autonomous with their own "styles", grading structures, hierarchies etc. There is a three tier level of coaching qualifications, with a number of course modules that have to be completed in order to achieve the qualifications. There's full info in the link below

http://www.bab.org.uk/coaching/coachinginfo.asp

My club has always been part of a BAB member association, so we have always followed these guidelines. From my perspective, I think it's a good idea, the modules are useful and give the individual
ideas and information on how to teach, that they may not be aware of if they were to just rock up and start "teaching" the Aikido that they know. I think it does help prepare you for the steps ahead.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:50 AM   #10
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Chuck,

I currently train with Moe Stevens, Son of Merrit Stevens. We are both in our late 50's. The collaboration has no territorial issues. Others in the dojo stand equally in the circle and have the freedom to ask anything, argue a point, and challenge our answers.

We will often reverse engineer a movement, clearly breaking new ground, and obviously all stumped, without fear of losing face. It rarely fails, when everyone's experience joins in, we all enjoy the discovery process. Moe is a very unique man, humble and loving. Definitely Socratic.

We call his backyard 1500 square foot garage dojo "The Mojo". It is a regional locus for Tomiki Aikido. And there is good juju at the Mojo.

Thanks,

Chris
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:43 AM   #11
Basia Halliop
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

I've never seen teaching credentials per se, but in my organization there are certifications allowing people to give tests and award ranks (fukoshidoin and shidoin) - http://usafaikidonews.com/category/u...d-instructors/

As far as I know/see anyone can actually teach though -- it just means your students may need to test in front of someone else to get a USAF rank. And of course junior instructors in a dojo teach under their teacher's supervision and guidance, with no specific rules or requirements except those applied by the head of the dojo.
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:54 AM   #12
Dazzler
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote: View Post
In the UK, many individual associations belong to the British Aikido Board. The BAB purpose is to set guidelines intending to create a high standard of Aikido coaching that it's member associations conform to, whilst still remaining autonomous with their own "styles", grading structures, hierarchies etc. There is a three tier level of coaching qualifications, with a number of course modules that have to be completed in order to achieve the qualifications. There's full info in the link below

http://www.bab.org.uk/coaching/coachinginfo.asp

My club has always been part of a BAB member association, so we have always followed these guidelines. From my perspective, I think it's a good idea, the modules are useful and give the individual
ideas and information on how to teach, that they may not be aware of if they were to just rock up and start "teaching" the Aikido that they know. I think it does help prepare you for the steps ahead.
Agreed Bryan. While I don't think its essential it certainly never did anyone any harm and there are certainly benefits from picking the brains of others.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:36 AM   #13
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Chris, I have fond memories of training with and having hands on Moe on many occasions in the early days of summer and winter gasshuku in Houston in the late seventies. Please give him my regards.

To all: I think one of the things that has hurt Japanese budo and martial arts in general is when large organizations pretty much took away the old ways of "promotion"... having large groups once or twice a year have "tests" where often the word would be out that a percentage of them wouldn't pass. A board or committee (that often weren't really connected with their teacher) would judge and award pass or fail decisions. I have seen and heard of more times when it then took months or even years before a certificate was given. Granted certificates aren't that big a deal (especially to Japanese... most of the Japanese budo people I have known never put them in public view, most often stored in some private place. I know a couple of people, graded fairly high dan that never told their friends, family, coworkers, etc. that they even trained in budo, chado, shodo, etc.

The whole bundle of human values, ego, etc. that surrounds any sort of promotion, certification, licensing, etc. certainly is a quagmire of conflicting "stuff" and emotional baggage. The idea of using a rank, a "teaching credential" (especially when assuming it goes along with a shodan certificate) as a marker for quality rather than the person themselves and the quality of their actions and waza seems really bent to me. (that's a technical term, you know...)

It's interesting to me to see how different organizations deal with promotions and certifications. Please, more info ...

Thanks to everyone for sharing.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:54 AM   #14
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Chuck,

I will give Moe your regards. To be sure, our environment is quite American in perspective. But, as you know, Moe maintains great respect and honor to his Japanese teachers, father and all who came before him. We stress open hearts, human connections and also tend to keep the rank in the private wall of one's home. We do have regional testing regularly.

Gassho,

Chris
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:37 AM   #15
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Chuck,
I am currently sort of familiar with two systems: in one you are actively encouraged to teach, or even start a small group, at shodan - however, the general assumption is that, within a regional network of such groups, you regularly attend both special weekly training sessions for higher grades and lots of seminars with higher ranking instructors, local and visiting. So would your students, the more advanced ones at least. Almost nobody teaches professionally in this system, and groups typically use local public gyms to train. Hierarchy, rights and duties (like who may examine, which teachers get invited for seminars...) are very structured and quite explicit. The basic operating unit is the region. Yudansha are promoted exam style when their teachers feel they are ready, regardless of time spent in the art.

The other is based on dojos run by professional instructors, typically sandan and above, who teach as a personal calling and try to make a living doing so. Dojos have their own rented space and tend to offer complementary activities such as Yoga, kids classes, body work or the like. They also have uchideshi and it seems sort of customary for the professional instructors to have been uchideshi with their teacher for some time. Hierarchy is mostly implicit, along several dimensions (mostly rank and time spent with higher-ranking teachers), but it is quite clear. Dojos are quite independent and dojo-chos have a lot of leeway how they organise teaching in their place. The basic operating unit is the dojo. Not quite sure about Yudansha promotions here, but the aikikai hour requirements seem to play a role amongst other things.

Now of course in both systems there are probably lots of exceptions to this, I just sketch ideal types.

Last edited by Nicholas Eschenbruch : 06-15-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:04 AM   #16
Keith Larman
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

FWIW over the last few years there has been a push underway within our organization to implement teacher certification. Up until the attempt to implement certification it was really up to each dojo to decide who could teach what and when. There are a lot of issues in our particular case that muddied the waters, so to speak, so we've had issues. One in particular is the impression many have that somehow being awarded a shodan meant the person is okay to teach. I'm not exactly sure where that impression came from, but some did believe that and believed it quite strongly. Me, coming from a background of testing and skills measurement, well, I find that ludicrous. The reality is that only some people teach well. And getting to a demonstrated skill level doesn't mean one can transmit those skills to others.

Of course the next issue becomes how to go about it. And oddly enough the way we did it before (which essentially left it up to each dojo to decide who among their own was qualified to teach) probably worked fairly well in some sense of the word. What it did was allowed the local ostensibly "most qualified" person to decide who could teach. And they could base that on their impression of their teaching ability, skills, results, etc. Since this is such a "hands-on" IHTBF kinda deal it really does make some sense to do it that way.

The problem, of course, is that as an organization grows and you are trying to keep some standardization as to "what" it is you're teaching from location to location you need to implement something to get a more consistent approach to teaching. Which in many cases means instructor certification. So in our case they implemented checklists for those in charge at each dojo to go through for various levels of certification. The higher the certification the more stringent the requirements, such as having their teaching observed and evaluated by shihan for instance.

My feeling on all of this is actually rather complex. In a small group it really should be up to the top people to simply indicate who should teach. As it grows if the organization wants to keep some degree of consistency they really do need to come up with a certification protocol of some sort as it becomes too difficult for one person to fill that role. I personally think certification should be separate but somewhat related (i.e., a shodan is going to top out as an assistant teacher) to rank.

Teaching ability is sometimes quite different from the skill in the art itself. Sure, there are very talented shodan out there. And I'm sure someone is going to raise the objection that super-duper shodan Bob over hear is an exceptional teacher with amazing abilities and he never pursued higher rank so he should have a higher certification than allowed by his rank. To nip that objection in the bud, that's actually a criticism of the ranking system rather than a criticism of the certification. If everything is done correctly I think it is a good thing as rank and teaching ability, while somewhat related and certainly interdependent in some ways, are actually two different factors.

But underlying assumption to this sort of discussion is that the certification system is itself coherent, well thought out, and implemented consistently. If it is then you have the very best people giving out those teaching "licenses" if you will. The idea is to avoid the idea of the certification as a sort of "collecting pins" but instead have it as a set of high hurdles that are meaningful.

If you look at many koryu arts without ranks many simply have different levels of "teaching permissions" handed down. So someone can teach the first "level" of arts as a first step. The "ranking" of sorts is along these lines and ideally should reflect both the person's mastery of the art as well as their ability to pass it along to the next student, at least at the level they're at.

FWIW.

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Old 06-15-2012, 11:09 AM   #17
Abasan
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Honestly, I'd prefer a teacher undergo a peer review before being allowed to teach. No matter how well meaning the person maybe, he needs to pass an acid test to teach technical aikido. This by no means assure you that he'll be a good teacher, just that he would be technically correct and his syllabus would be ok.

As far as being a good teacher, only your teacher and your students can tell.

In cases where there are no choices but to teach, then teach with caveats and full disclosure. You are learning as much as you teach. And I subscribe to the fact that 70% of learning comes the student anyhow.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:12 PM   #18
JO
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

In the Aikikai there are dan requirements for the three levels of instructor. 2 or 3 dan for fukushidoin, 4 or above for shidoin and 6 or above for shihan. Fukushidoin and shidoin are awarded by the local organisation and shihan by the Aikikai hombu. There is a lot of variation in the way that aikikai organizations award the fukushidoin and shidoin titles. Bassia gave the link to a USAF page on the subject. Here is a link to the canadian take on the matter : http://www.canadianaikidofederation.ca/en_technical.php

Personnally I like the idea of having reaching credentials linked to rank but still a seperate issue. The main problem is coming up of a way to maintain standards in a large organization where it is impossible for everyone to know eachother.

A good credentials system from a recognized organization should help people unfamiliar with the subject (such as most new students, who have no clue about the martial arts) identify people worth learning from. The old statements of judging a teacher's skill that get used a lot here are of little to no use to someone without some skill and experience him or herself on which to base judgment. You/we have to find a way to test and maintain standards. Can you imagine choosing a doctor based on your own personal judgment of his work (assuming you're not in the medical feild yourself). You depend on the professional boards and schools to maintain their standards.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:00 PM   #19
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Re: formalised teaching credentials, even teaching training - I do not believe in them very much (and I have formal teaching certificates of some sort in a couple of fields, and teaching is a central part of my job). Of course, there are valid ideas out there that can help to organise teaching, but at the end of the day, I believe its mostly in one's own inspiration (as teacher or student).

One of my crucial teachers (not in aikido) was a man who in a way actively refused to teach. He still inspired me to learn more than anybody else in that field. If he mentioned a book in passing, I'd read it. Again, he would not have inspired other students. There are people who would pass any teacher training with flying colours and who are totally uninspiring.

Another one of my teachers likes to say:
A bad teacher does not give you permission.
A good teacher gives you permission.
An outstanding teacher shows you you do not need permission.

Yet another one sometimes made me fel I had to learn against his formal teaching. Boy did I try hard, and it helped.

Just to put out a strong thesis: formalised teaching credentials encourage mediocrity in teachers and students.

Morihei Ueshiba never quite "taught" in that sense, did he?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:33 PM   #20
PeterR
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Hi Chuck;

I sort of tried answering your question but deleted the first attempt as it seemed trite. Next try and basically brought out by your comment about Japanese high Dan keeping quiet.

I think within Shodokan (Tomiki) Aikido in Japan there are those that train and move up quietly, there are those that don't even move up beyond a certificate level but just train and then there are those that actively want to move up, to teach, to put themselves out there. I suspect that is true in all budo organizations inside and outside Japan. Perhaps proportions change but I suspect not much.

Soooo within Shodokan there actually is a teaching certification awarded to those at least with a Yondan and generally to those that have spent time as deshi. Yes I know we are all students but I think you know what I mean.

For the rest of us we are not encouraged to go out and teach but if we do decide to do that the encouragement and support is there. In my case, far from unique, I ran a small club in Canada with just a Shodan. I know of at least a couple of cases where there they did not even have a dan grade but it works out since people teach what they know.

I did start a club in Japan at Shodan but the Nidan followed pretty quick. Also not particularily unique I know but at least there were mechanisms in place that allowed students to be exposed and taught by higher level teachers.

Last edited by PeterR : 06-15-2012 at 09:36 PM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:39 PM   #21
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Thanks to everyone... this is the sort of info I'm looking for. We have had an "informal teachers training" in Jiyushinkai for some years trying to put together a formal teachers training and certification system. We have, as part of our system, a group of kihon no kata that teaches specific lessons in principle. We also have maintained Tomiki sensei's group of koryu no kata that preserve history plus giving different examples of varying ways of using basic principle. Also, one of the main parts of our practice is randori between two and then at times three or four people. Within the randori type practice we also have many drills based on randori situations that explore and practice often very slowly but with as much reality of movement as possible. We learn many different situational solutions to problems from at least four directions to start with. Connection and understanding of proper kuzushi and control of sente is a priority. In my experience, as students learn the basic kata they tend to "do the kata, the waza in ways that are comfortable" for them. Often this ends with straying away from principle by using strength, etc. We also test each other at any time to keep ourselves from falling into habitual bad habits. Everyone is held accountable for being able to go back to and teach basic kihon no kata at all levels. Much like a musician playing scales and exercises instead of just their own style of music that pleases them. Instructors and teachers must be able to do both, basic principle and then incorporating those principles in their own stylistic versions as needed in randori or if ever needed in shinken shobu. We are determined to come up with a usable and valuable system of training instructors who will grow into teachers who can do it all.

Many of you have shown by your posts here that you have similar intent in trying to develop and keep real quality in your practice. Wish we could all get together more easily. Times are hard now but we can continue with quality training for sure.

Thanks again and please more communication about this subject.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:45 PM   #22
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Hi Peter, your post just popped up as I entered my last one. Great to hear from you. I don't post here much anymore... mostly just read others stuff. However, this subject is very interesting to me.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:07 PM   #23
JO
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post

Just to put out a strong thesis: formalised teaching credentials encourage mediocrity in teachers and students.
If this is the case you are simply giving the credentials to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Of course, no system will ever be perfect.

My formal schooling is in science. The best scientists are expected to teach and tend to get the highest credentials (though I'll admit to "rankings" I don't agree with). But what does teaching mean? Science classes for non scientists often come down to a bunch of facts and theories to memorize, but science classes for scientists (which usually really starts about half way through your undergrad, at least in my case) is all about how to find things out for yourself. And for those that truly stay in the field the most important teachers are mentors, teaching mostly by example and good advise.

I think that the best results in aikido could follow a similar pattern. Simply showing the basics in a pedagogical manner to those just starting out and then moving on to mostly teaching by example and letting your students figure things out. This also allows you to have less advanced people start getting involved in actively teaching since they should be able, even before shodan, to show some basic elements of the training to those less advanced.

I followed this type of path in aikido, first "helping out" showing beginners as I trained with them, then at about 1st kyu occasionally substituting when my sensei was not around, then starting last year (now at nidan) I was given a regular weekly class to teach. All under the supervision of a sixth dan certified shidoin.

Of course all of this is made tricky in a dojo by having everyone of all ranks train together. But that also makes the training richer and gives everyone the chance to teach and to learn, to show and to watch.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:27 AM   #24
PeterR
 
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
Hi Peter, your post just popped up as I entered my last one. Great to hear from you. I don't post here much anymore... mostly just read others stuff. However, this subject is very interesting to me.
Same here - although there has been a slight upsurge recently. Just find that I don't have much to contribute in threads that don't devolve into contention. I avoid the latter like the plague.

Back to teaching.

At Shodokan Honbu at least part of the class has people paired with lower grades for preparation for testing. This happens nearly every class with very structured exams. The end result is that people tend to go through the testing material multiple time - initially to learn - and again to explain. Learning to teach is pretty much a given. One wonders what further qualifications do accomplish.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:33 AM   #25
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Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

I started really understanding science when I started working as a lab instructor. Started getting more than half decent when I started taking responsibility for others growth.

I see very strong parallels between my science and my aikido.

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Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
If this is the case you are simply giving the credentials to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Of course, no system will ever be perfect.

My formal schooling is in science. The best scientists are expected to teach and tend to get the highest credentials (though I'll admit to "rankings" I don't agree with). But what does teaching mean? Science classes for non scientists often come down to a bunch of facts and theories to memorize, but science classes for scientists (which usually really starts about half way through your undergrad, at least in my case) is all about how to find things out for yourself. And for those that truly stay in the field the most important teachers are mentors, teaching mostly by example and good advise.

I think that the best results in aikido could follow a similar pattern. Simply showing the basics in a pedagogical manner to those just starting out and then moving on to mostly teaching by example and letting your students figure things out. This also allows you to have less advanced people start getting involved in actively teaching since they should be able, even before shodan, to show some basic elements of the training to those less advanced.

I followed this type of path in aikido, first "helping out" showing beginners as I trained with them, then at about 1st kyu occasionally substituting when my sensei was not around, then starting last year (now at nidan) I was given a regular weekly class to teach. All under the supervision of a sixth dan certified shidoin.

Of course all of this is made tricky in a dojo by having everyone of all ranks train together. But that also makes the training richer and gives everyone the chance to teach and to learn, to show and to watch.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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