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Thread: Learning to teach, teaching to teach

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    Question Learning to teach, teaching to teach

    Gassho

    This is an issue I am thinking about some time now and maybe I can get some enlightening comments from this forum.

    First some information about the background of this question and myself, to eliminate any misunderstanding. We are three Shodans in Berlin, running the club and getting support from the German Federation recently. One day some years ago I stood in front of the Kenshi and had to lead the training because nobody else was there to do it (I guess, that’s how most of you who now teach started). I was nervous and mainly did what I had seen others do before. I was not prepared for this and thinking about how to do good sessions (also about what to do, but mainly about how to do it) as an instructor ever since.

    My first session probably wasn’t a good one. This is of course getting better after some time, and in the meantime I know my collection of Taiso and Kihon exercises and what points should be made when explaining a certain technique. But on the one hand I think this is a hard way to learn it and on the other hand I have the feeling learning it this way misses out some important points. I am talking about e.g. constructing the sessions, so everyone is challenged to his/her own abilities, being able to spot, what should be covered next, being able to create an atmosphere that is relaxed or intense, as needed – it’s really hard to write down what I more feel than I can grip, but I hope you get the impression.

    So how do we actually learn to teach (a good way)? When I try to stick to what is in Shorinjikempo about this already, I only find shu-ha-ri. But this principle focuses on mastering a technique and not so much on mastering teaching. I understand that ha and ri will work later on, you have to adapt your teaching and finally find your own way, but what about the initial input, the shu? The only ways I have found so far is watching and copying Senseis and trial & error. You also hardly going to be corrected, because when a Sensei is there, he will teach and not standing there and watching to correct you afterwards. Of course it is always possible to ask a Sensei a specific question, but I feel, that this knowledge is not handed down systematically. Maybe that is intended, I don’t know.
    I recall from another thread on this forum, that in Australia to run a MA class you have to do a specific instructors training first by law. Could this be beneficial, learning something independent of style?

    It also goes down the line. Some Kenshi are gifted to be able to talk and explain, to others this is more a problem, although they are really good Kenshi and have valuable knowledge to share. How can they be helped to improve also in this field?

    Maybe I am just thinking that there is more than the obvious, and in the end it is only coming down to experience, common sense, knowing your techniques, following the rules outlined anyway and some basic psychology. But also maybe there is more.

    Kesshu
    Joerg Rackwitz
    Shorinji Kempo
    Humboldt-Universitaet Berlin Branch

    "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." George Orwell

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    Well..... quick answer, as I don't have too much time this evening (and I am sure the "Two Davids" will be along soon.....)



    Some people are good at teaching, some not good.

    Some people are good at teaching one-on-one, some are good teaching a group, some are good at one or the other, some are good at both.

    My experience is to run the class in a similar fashion to the way your sensei/instructor runs it....... you came to that class, and enjoyed it and stayed, so others may think the style is good/enjoyable.

    Use "cues" from other styles/pursuits...... see how others teach certain (not necessarily shorinji kempo, or even martial arts) things, and steal (borrow ) their ideas and style........ I do this a fair amount, and it works well......
    Obviously teach shorinji kempo, but the way you teach is objective.


    I think you summed it up quite well with your last observation......
    Maybe I am just thinking that there is more than the obvious, and in the end it is only coming down to experience, common sense, knowing your techniques, following the rules outlined anyway and some basic psychology.
    Steve Williams

    Harrow Branch.
    Shorinji Kempo UK.
    www.ukskf.org




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    One David signing in...

    "What he said..."

    In Berlin the situation of NO Sensei is a tricky one, and in most circumstances (hopefully) doesn't occur. Usually the senior students are introduced to Teaching duties in a gradual way, under the direct supervision of the Branch Master. Starting with perhaps Taiso (warm-ups), then Kihon (basic techniques) and on to individual techniques to the appropriate grade... there are lots of sections within the class that offer an opportunity to delegate responsibility to a senior student. A class could have Kenshi A giving Taiso, Kenshi B giving Kihon, Kenshi C giving Howa and Kenshi D,E,F,G teaching 5th Kyu, 4th Kyu, 3rd Kyu, 2nd Kyu, 1st Kyu their individual techniques for the day. Meanwhile Sensei is able to observe in more detail than usual, any of the students who might need special attention, from the beginners to the seniors. He can take the seniors to one side later and go through the strong or weak points of their Teaching.

    This is an example that Johan Frendin might frown upon, as it could give the impression that Sensei is just there to wander around giving comments "from on high" without breaking a sweat. It actually offers Sensei the chance to get in the action and sweat it out too, if that's what he wants. In my view, I'd prefer to pay Sensei to teach me, than pay him to sweat next to me.

    So the situation where the Senior Student is "dropped in at the deep end" shouldn't happen. But of course it does, on occasion, and that is why everyone should take the opportunity to learn how to teach when they can. You never know when you might be the most senior Kenshi present (bearing in mind any legal responsibilities before commencing a class with no qualified instructor...).
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    Originally posted by Steve Williams
    Well..... quick answer, as I don't have too much time this evening (and I am sure the "Two Davids" will be along soon.....)
    Oi, I've been quiet round here lately. And I'm out of here for a week now, so you can be spared my ramblings.
    David Dunn
    Cambridge Dojo
    BSKF

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    David, dropped in at the deep end is what happened to most of the kenshi I know that now teach. When I was about nikyu Sensei started telling me to do taiso or kihon, and after people would rush forward to tell me what I'd done wrong. The main thing is that you need to be diligent, and try always to improve your own understanding. Never try to kid kenshi that you know the answer when you don't, because that's going to backfire on your credibility, not to mention sticking to Shorinji Kempo rather than 'interpretation of Shorinji Kempo'. Use a "don't know" moment to seek an answer from someone who does know.

    The hardest part for me, is assessing what is the most fundamental error in what someone is doing. What's the point in trying to get to fine details of kote nuki if kagite is wrong or yose ashi is omitted? Stick to below your own level. You need a degree to teach high school students, and a doctorate to teach university students. If you're shodan no one expects you to be able to bring someone up to shodan level. If you think you can then you have to try to become nidan.

    Steve, I know what you say about some people being able to teach is correct. Do you think that you can teach someone to teach better? There are cliches but in my department there are people that can teach very well and those that can't. The latter category appears to consist of people who are either show-offs or simply can't understand someone else's difficulty. I don't have an answer to this question.
    David Dunn
    Cambridge Dojo
    BSKF

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    Originally posted by David Dunn
    David, dropped in at the deep end is what happened to most of the kenshi I know that now teach.
    Actually David, I was thinking of the situation where the Sensei is unable to come to class for a whole session, or worse, AT ALL. As I understand it, Berlin has not had a Sensei at all, in the normal way (Glasgow know all about this way of living, but it isn't the usual). The "Deep End" wouldn't just be a Taiso or a Kihon, but the whole class...

    or is that what YOU meant too?
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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    I think from a Shorinji Kempo point of view we do a pretty good job of helping people become better at teaching, our basic philosophy helps us to empathise with and value others as well as to act ethically. I do believe the right sort of training can improve anyone’s teaching abilities. Communication seems such a basic principle, but from my experience it is very much a learned skill, and many people are not naturally good at it. I think that communication skills are one of the main skills a teacher needs; however there are other skills and knowledge that are needed like organisational ability, business understanding, and knowledge of physiology, first aid, phycology, law and drug use in sports. The latter may sound redundant in Shorinji Kempo as we do not compete; however more and more people are turning to drugs to achieve their desired physique or just to perform better than their mates. This would not be such a problem in kenshi that have a greater experience with Shorinji Kempo, but more with new kenshi and we need to understand the motives and tell tale signs of its use.

    Throwing people in at the deep end and using your experience with your sensei to model your teaching methods on are one way of developing, is it the best way? If we take a look at the way we teach other skills like randori or waza we can understand that we should avoid throwing people in at the deep end before they have developed enough skill in the basic concepts so as not to be overwhelmed and thereby losing the chance to take something constructive from the experience. I certainly understand the realities that can force us to into throwing someone into the deep end, but this should not be looked at as a method of teaching.
    Cheers
    Colin Linz

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    Originally posted by Tripitaka of AA
    Actually David, I was thinking of the situation where the Sensei is unable to come to class for a whole session, or worse, AT ALL. As I understand it, Berlin has not had a Sensei at all, in the normal way (Glasgow know all about this way of living, but it isn't the usual). The "Deep End" wouldn't just be a Taiso or a Kihon, but the whole class...

    or is that what YOU meant too?
    Well, sort of. Sensei divides the teaching of kyu techniques up among the black belts in the class, so we have had experience of that all along. Leading kihon is a different skill, one which ought to be easy, but isn't because people get nervous. I think the same is true of howa. I suppose by saying "I'm starting a dojo" you're pretty much throwing yourself in at the deep end.

    Colin, I'm not sure it is the best way. I think there should be some kind of instruction for instructors, some support and some level of quality control.
    David Dunn
    Cambridge Dojo
    BSKF

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    Default teaching

    I think while Steve is definitely right that there are people with more of an aptitude for teaching than others, and people who will be better teaching one on one rather than teaching a group, teaching is a skill which can be learned, and certainly improved. I can empathise with Joerg's predicament - while it is not true to say that in Glasgow we don't have a sensei (Niall Anderson is 3rd dan and our branch master) it would be true to say we don't have say any of Mizuno Sensei's first generation of UK students in residence. We did have the good fortune to have a Japanese fifth dan in residence for a few years recently, which was an enormous benefit.

    To some extent, teaching is something you have to find your own way with. Teaching is something I have grown to enjoy and value immensely, but my initial experience of it was simply because somebody had to teach, and I was the ranking grade in attendance a times. There are different but equally effective ways of teaching classes, and you have to find a style you're comfortable with.

    On a more practical level, Shorinji Kempo is a syllabus based system, and the typical structure of warm up-kihon-chinkon-waza(or grade specific techniques) is one which works. In terms of the specific content, if you get any exposure to instructors like Mizuno Sensei unhesitatingly file the serial numnbers off and use the models they offer you. I think it can help to try and put across basic themes in kihon - think about the fundemental elements like tai and ashi sabaki, basic patterns of attack and defence. These don't have to be deeply profound, but I do think it's helpful to have an idea of what specifically you're trying to get across in a given part of the class. However, I think it can be a mistake to have rigidly preconceived ideas about what and how you're going to - some of the best classes I've run teach (says me of course) have been improvised on the basis of how I see students reacting to what I'm trying to get across.

    In terms of how rather than what you teach, I'd suggest that there is in an optimal ratio of explanation to giving students an opportunity to practice. Too much talk isn't actually giving students a chance to learn. Make corrections incrementally - you won't get junior kyu grades to get anything exactly right instantly. That's fine I think as long as you start with the most fundemental elements and get them toimprove what they're doing incrementally. If you give people five or six things to corect at once generally they'll have forgotten the first three by the time you finished the last one, and chances are the first two were actually more importnant. I think it's generally a good idea to allow students to do techniques five to ten times, and then make corrections - let them get into a rythm of actually practising.

    PS Dave (Dunn) you've got mail.

    Tony leith

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    Gassho,

    thanks for the replies so far. Seems like there is no real "mystery" about teaching, just use what you have learned and try hard.

    I mean its not that us three Shodans have suddenly come to existence and then formed that group, all three of us have been studying in a dojo for more or less time, either in the UK (Soni) or in Japan (Felix and me). So we have some experience how a class is running (although not really leading it) and examples to copy and I actually use a lot of what Tony Leith was explaining.

    I'll try the other hints as well, tonight is the next training.
    Joerg Rackwitz
    Shorinji Kempo
    Humboldt-Universitaet Berlin Branch

    "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." George Orwell

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    Cool For what it's worth

    Dear All

    Years ago I was taught that prior planning prevents p*ss poor performance, failing to plan is planning to fail.

    It still rings true.
    How to teach Shorinji Kempo class?
    How about....

    Implement a business plan.

    Look at what your objective is.

    Decide on the best method to achieve it.

    Teach your way; wholeheartedly throwing yourself into the project with boundless infectious enthusiasm.

    Monitor and review your performance according to your initial goals by consistently seeking, AND ACTING UPON, feedback from your students.

    Impose realistic time constraints on your goals with a tangible benchmark of achievement (i.e. create 5 sho-dan from beginners recruited within 5 years.)

    At the end of the initial plan, start another one along the same format.

    I have been to so many lessons where I know that the teacher's making it up as they go along.
    I know of several classes where the format's always exactly the same, year in year out.
    It drives me to distraction, it's boring, lazy and selfish.
    Always go in with a plan for your lesson, like a theme.
    It may not survive contact with reality as the lesson evolves naturally but don't teach the same one over and over.
    Continual variation will challenge your subjects and force them to remain alert.
    Involve them in elements of teaching, force them to become a teacher too.
    Teach your weaknesses, force yourself to improve.
    Continually study and teach what you learn as you learn it.
    Don't be scared to make mistakes and instantly admit them as you make them.
    And finally enjoy it, if it becomes like work then you will leave eventually.
    This is a hobby, not a job.

    See you soon.

    Ade
    A man with small testes should never get involved in a fight requiring cojones

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    Hi!
    first let me introduce myself: Andrea Mazzei, white belt at the Berlin University SK club, this is my first post.
    Ok, I'm just a white belt, so I can't say a lot about how to teach. But I can say how I want to be teached, right?
    The most important thing for me is patience: I am in the dojo to lern, and I am stupid, since I know nothing. So my sensei should be patient to me, and explain the same thing a lot of time, and even when I say "ok, I've got it", he should show and explain ten times more. I think action is much more effective then words, so show me where my mistakes are, don't tell.
    Phylosophy is differnet, of course: there I want to be asked questions, I expect my sensei to give me points to think about.
    Of course this is ok only if I give my sensei at least as much as I want from him: do what he tells me to do, listen to him, only to say something.

    Oh, and then there's beer: i expect my sensei to drink much more beer then everyone else (am I wrong if i think sensei Ade will do agree with this? am I???)

    BTW, up to now my teachers in Berlin have done a great job, and I would be very happy if they would go on like this

    Thank you!!!

    Andrea Mazzei
    Andrea Mazzei

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    Wink Hmmmmmmmmm

    Originally posted by masada
    Hi!...first let me introduce myself: Andrea Mazzei, white belt at the Berlin University SK club, this is my first post.
    Ok, I'm just a white belt, so I can't say a lot about how to teach. But I can say how I want to be teached, right?...then there's beer: i expect my sensei to drink much more beer then everyone else (am I wrong if i think sensei Ade will do agree with this? am I???)
    BTW, up to now my teachers in Berlin have done a great job, and I would be very happy if they would go on like this
    Thank you!!!...Andrea Mazzei

    ...the force is strong with this one.....Jedi he wants to be!
    A man with small testes should never get involved in a fight requiring cojones

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    One point that I have not seen made yet is.... Everybody is different. No one person learns the same as others, so with this fact you have to be able to vary your teaching style. One person may learn by just watching the technique being done while another may need to actually “feel” the technique and yet another may be able to learn the technique by verbal instructions. Good teachers will recognize this and adapt his teaching or if this is not possible assign a senior Kenshi to this person that can teach in that manner.

    Personally I have to “feel” the technique. I have to have the technique done to me and then do the technique several times before I am comfortable with it (of course this does not mean that I have the technique down pat, only that I am comfortable with and am then ready to fine tune it). In the end though, I think it is up to the student to make sure that the teacher knows what works and does not work with them.


    In our class who ever is instructing will usually call one of the senior Kenshi up front to help him lead class. This gives the senior belts a good basis incase they have to lead the class one night. I have also noticed that several senior belts, while working with the kids will make the some of the kids lead that group in Kata forms.

    This said, I don’t think that there is one set way to teach. You have to fine the right path for each student and then figure out how to guide that student down that path.
    Susie Forbes
    Alabama Shorinji Kempo

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    Susie,

    That’s quite true; people will take in information better in one way than another. Basically broken down to visually, auditory, and tactilely. There is a technique that uses the observation of eye movements to determine the way a person best accepts information. Apparently there was a motor dealership that had there salesmen taught this technique so they could develop the best strategy to adopt when selling you there product. Their improvement in sales was considerable.

    During face to face communication about 70% of the communication is non verbal. This was really demonstrated to me when I last visited Japan. My language skills are not very good but I could get me and my wife around on our own and find the places we wanted to go. But when it came to using the phone to book accommodation it was very difficult. The way we communicate influences the way our message is accepted.

    Further to delivery of the message is the check of understanding. There is a need for open questions rather than closed ones. Listening to the others response is really necessary to ensure the message has been received in the way you intended it to be received. Much of this is less important when teaching techniques, but I would place importance on it when teaching philosophy. Communication is a little like Kaiso’s philosophy, on the surface it appears common sense; however understanding and using it is a little harder.

    Every one should adopt a teaching style that they feel comfortable in, but they should also seek ways in which they can improve their delivery and the understanding of how delivery effects the way we learn.
    Cheers
    Colin Linz

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