Thursday, April 3, 2014


Teaching is a hell of a skill.

Seriously. It sort of boggles the mind to consider the components of good teaching:
  • Clarity of communication
  • Patience
  • Organization
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Empathy
Think about it. How often do you find all those traits in an individual who is in an instructional role? It really bakes my brain as to why we don't pay teachers more, 'cause that's a damn hard thing to do.

"Why the hell are you on a beef about teaching?" you ask.

I've been chewing on this since my last martial arts class.

In most martial arts, once you get your black belt, you're expected to step up to a teaching role and try to pass along your knowledge to lower ranks. Honestly, you're really supposed to try to do that whenever you get any rank at all, but a black belt (or equivalent) is normally someone who has got a solid command of the basics and should know enough to get junior students through rough patches.

The ability to teach, however, is not a requirement of attaining this rank. And it's sometimes painfully obvious (no pun intended). I find I can handle teachers who lack empathy. It's not a big deal to me. Even disorganized teachers don't get me too irritated. It's the ones who are unclear and impatient who really lose me.

I especially find scenarios such as the following to be irritating:

Exercise: deal with an attacker coming at you unpredictably. The purpose of the scenario is to test your ability to react to unpredictable scenarios. You're not supposed to take time to ponder. You're supposed to apply what you know.

  • Attacker grabs arm of subject.
  • Subject lets out a loud cry, drives his heel into the attacker's foot as a simulated distraction (not really hurting the attacker, 'cause... not the purpose of the exercise).
  • Black belt's comment: "You're not using technique. You're just striking."
Yeah. Thanks. Very helpful. Perhaps suggesting some applicable techniques might help instead of just barking out "you're doing it wrong" would be a more constructive use of class time.

And the joy of pointing out stuff like that in martial arts class is that usually it's not terribly well-received. Something about people who learn to fight lends itself to not enjoying receiving criticism.

Makes me appreciate the ones who "get teaching" all the more, really.

Wish I were patient and clear myself.

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