What makes a good teacher?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Midnight-shadow, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's different than not going at the pace of the slowest student. They've missed the pace of the class.
     
  2. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    My point was just that "fighting" wasn't part of the OP's question, rather "Martial Arts" was. Early on in my martial arts travel, I believed wholly that the two were synonymous. But over the years, I've come to realize that, despite what most people claim, learning how to "fight" (or "self defense") really isn't the reason that most adults train long-term in martial arts. There's a bunch of reasons and, if "self defense"/"fighting" is in the mix, it's a small part.

    That's all I meant. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  3. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Great post skribs, and yeah it definitely requires a bit of discernment to know what to share and when.

    LOL at the funny kids questions... I've had that during class, a kid will come up and just say the most random things... "I played basketball today."

    But I'm often surprised at what kids put their hands up to say, things like "Karate is about balance." Blows me away!


    I'm not an instructor per se, but am still assistant instructor for the kids karate class for my old dojo, so I can only speak on that front as well as when I taught piano to primary school kids. And everyone's pretty much covered it..

    Patience patience patience haha. So important, and it's something I've mostly been good with, but have struggled at times for sure. The student is currently experiencing a whole other world and isn't at the same level of understanding, and to try and project your own expectations onto them as to how something should be done is very conflicting. To slow down and ask, "How are they currently seeing this..." "What part are they not understanding.." "How can I communicate this in a way they'll understand.." has been really insightful.

    And I always go too far in explaining things and maybe overcomplicating it for kids, you can see the look in their face when you've done that haha..
     
  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Okay, a few thoughts. I doubt I'll stick to 3. Let's find out.

    As others have implied, there's a difference between what makes a teacher good, and what makes a good teacher (the latter being the process that builds the teacher).

    A willingness to question - and to be questioned - is essential to me. I think it makes good instructors, and good students. If you stop questioning, you stop learning. If you never start questioning, you're not learning very deeply, and are at risk of accepting things dogmatically.

    Adaptability. The best teachers are able to adapt to students. Nobody can adapt to everyone's needs (at least, not in a group situation), but a really good teacher is able to recognize and adapt to individual needs along the way. Pushing those who need pushing, laying off those who need time, getting louder and softer as the student(s) need, etc.

    A willingness to be wrong. This kinda goes along with the first one, but isn't exactly the same. A good instructor has to be willing to be corrected (even by students, when appropriate), and to correct himself. If you're always right, you're kidding yourself.
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I manage that same error with adults. Man, sometimes I just need to shut up and let them work.
     
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  6. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    A good teacher, IMNSHO, will motivate the student to not just learn a technique, but to try to excel with the technique. The teacher will use the praise-correct-praise methodology, will set direct goals, will create a positive mood and tone for the class, and a host of other positive influences.
     
  7. UnelaborateYetComplex

    UnelaborateYetComplex White Belt

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    What makes a good teacher to me?
    1.Their history (experience)
    2. Patience, and willingness to answer any questions or concerns any student has in an articulate way that is also a valid answer (able to be backed up by a demonstration).
    3.The longest a master has held a student at a particular belt level or rank tells you indirectly how dedicated they are about their pursuit of being a martial arts instructor.
    4. The amount of non-fighting, but rather life wisdom-oriented information any master can impart upon any student or in front of their class speaks miles about their character. (In essence, wisdom would be my #1 for my pursuit of a good master)
    5. Attentiveness; A master's ability to carefully point out and correct mistakes when the practitioner doesn't know it; The ability for a master to be able to correct and student and assuming the student isn't a know-it-all, they say, "Yes sir", or "Thank you sir" with a smile, assuring they're happy about being corrected and now know the proper technique.
    Sorry for the extra 2, but In just over two years at my dojang, I can say for a fact that I'm a better man because of my master, and my master's senior-rank, instructor-level black belts, and I'm only learning more information from these role models as my young brain expands.
     
  8. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Agree! A good teacher should teach "principle" and not just "technique".

    If a student has learned the principle, he can map it into as many techniques. For example, if a student has learned the principle of "use kick to set up punch". Even if the student just learns "front kick, straight punch", he should be able to figure out:

    - front kick, uppercut,
    - front kick, hammer fist,
    - roundhouse kick, hook punch,
    - side kick, spin back fist,
    - ...

    Another example can be "1 step 3 punches". If a student has learned "jab, cross, jab", he should also figure out by himself:

    - hook, back fist, uppercut,
    - jab, hook, hook,
    - jab, cross, uppercut,
    - ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I don't go by the slowest person's pace, and I don't go by the fastest person's pace, I go by the pace I want at that particular time. But, there's a caveat to all this in regards to this thread. Some are teaching little kids. [those are those loud, sticky things, right?] I never taught little kids. At least not in my own dojo.

    Oh, God, what a horrible thought.
     
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  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm with you on that. I've taught them at my instructor's school. I don't see myself ever offering actual kids' classes, unless someone else wants to teach them.
     
  11. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    I'm not sure how holding a student at a particular level is a necessarily a good indicator of a good instructor. I've seen it work both ways, with some poor instructors pushing students to do advanced techniques before they have mastered the basics, as well as some instructors who hold a student back so long that they lose interest at the lack of progress.

    As to your point about wisdom, I think there needs to be a distinction between a Master and a Teacher. I wouldn't expect a Teacher to give me life advice in the middle of a class, nor would I particularly wish it unless it was relevant to the training we were doing. However, I would expect a Master to give me such advice at any time. Then again, I have a pretty different definition of Master compared to others in the Martial Arts world.
     
  12. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Some years ago I was in L.A. teaching at Billy Blanks' old dojo. Busiest gym, any kind of gym, I've ever been in. After nine hours in the dojo I had a break and was going to sit down and stretch out for an hour. Billy says, "go upstairs and assist Sandy with her class". So up I go.

    It was a class of three and four year olds. Ya, right. I turn around and walk right down the stairs. Billy's waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, points and says, "get back up there." I tell him he sucks badly, he laughs, and back up I go.

    Sandy explains it's only a thirty minute class, sometimes twenty five, it's just playing Karate games, let them have fun and not get hurt. Longest twenty five minutes I can remember. But they had fun, and only one kid peed his gi.

    But....sometimes I still have nightmares.
     
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  13. Martial D

    Martial D Master of Arts

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    A good teacher can take what they know and understand and make someone else know and understand.

    Whether the skill passed on is worth learning or effective at all is a whole different question.
     
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  14. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    What a great thread, so many good posts. Can't wait to come back from work and read and write some more.
     
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  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    It's okay. It's over now. You're safe.
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Great distinction, MD. That's what makes a really good teacher. If it's also useful information (for the purpose of the student), then it's a good teacher for that student.
     
  17. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Ah wow Billy Blanks! I'd love to read your autobiography if it ever comes out, such varied training and teaching experiences you've had!

    Haha and yeeeah 3 and 4 year old, that's tough! I love teaching in the kids classes, but I think the youngest is 5 years old, maybe 4. Still, very very challenging at times haha.

    Yeah it's a great idea for a thread, some great thoughts!
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah, Buka knows everyone who has a listing in Wikipedia, I think. And he eats a lot, especially with famous people. And he's been punched or kicked by a lot of famous people, too - usually not while eating, though.
     
  19. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Hehehe! True!


    Ah and another thought, teachers are often idolised and held in an almost 'god-like' status, and often have alot of projected unrealistic expectations upon them from students. And alot of students get disappointed when they don't marry up to be this absolute pinnacle of knowledge, but instructors are people too and not perfect. So I think a great part of this is how the student frames and hold the instructor in their perception, realising that whilst they have a great deal to impart and to be open to their teachings, that they can't teach them everything. I reckon a good teacher will recognise that, and won't pretend to know more than they actually know. Goes with previous posts in this thread, that they're honest about what they know and don't know.

    But a big part is how the student holds the teacher, and also how they click with them. Some 'good teachers' are great for some students, and others just do not suit some students, and therefore those students would probably suit better to move on to find an instructor that suits them. Like when I was teaching piano, some students from other teachers were transferred over to me from other teachers who the students just didn't 'click with', when they came to me it was a better fit and they loved the lessons and we're able to learn, and vice versa!

    Which is why I'm excited to start looking around for a new style (which is very very soon once all is in order hehe), previously I didn't really feel I had a choice (when I did, but didn't realise it at the time), but now I can really test this out and see which teacher and dojo I really click with.
     
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  20. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Let me ask you guys something about kids, for those who teach the young ones. I know every kid/person is different, but for the five, six, and seven year olds, how long is their typical class? And what do they seem to enjoy doing the most, what seems to really grab their attention?
     

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