Impact Of teachers
Lesson 30 Chapter 2 Module 3
At the end of his lesson one evening Steven, a seven-year-old student came to me with a story. He told of a girl at school that day who was being picked on by two of the boys from his class. They teased her and started pushing her. Steven decided to intercede before they went too far. "I went up to them" he said "and told them to stop picking on her."
"And what did they do then?", I asked.
"Then they started picking on me." He said with some pride and surprise. He saw the look on my face and
added, "But that was OK because they stopped picking on her and that is what I wanted."
"What did you do then?" I said as I looked at Steven and then at his mother, my eyes wide with expectation.
"I was ready for them just in case but I told them I was not going to fight.", He said and stopped talking.
"And then what happened?" his mother prompted, knowing the outcome herself.
"They went away. They just wanted to be bullies and when they couldn't be, they stopped."
We adults just looked at each other and in unison grinned. I said "Good job Steven!"
When Steven left with his mother she nodded and gave me a big smile and with no sound I read her lips. She mouthed the words, "Thank You."
This is an example of the impact that martial art training has on a youngster. Steven had developed confidence and courage in only a year by learning about himself and the nature of confrontation. He was ready to defend himself and protect his friend. He was aware of the danger to himself yet he knew that giving in to a bully was a mistake. He asserted himself and adequately controlled himself and the situation. These are the goals of our teaching. One can see changes in students over time.
In class it is difficult to measure our impact. Hearing the story made my day. It was a pleasant surprise. The Teacher/Student relationship is an interpersonal one. Those of us who teach know the powerful lessons we learn from our students. Working together in our lessons the teacher seeks to impart information and the student seeks knowledge. The teacher comes to the lesson with a great deal of information and experience. The students come with a hunger to learn. There is a knack to explaining. Not everyone has it. Most teachers have difficulty stating in simple terms that which they know so well.
Sometimes the students are better able to see or state the truth of our lessons better than we can see ourselves. Every teacher has had a student summarize and explain a complex idea in simpler and more accurate terms than they could have done themselves.
Sometimes the students are better able to see or state the truth of our lessons better than we can see ourselves.
The main objective for martial art's instructor is to give the students a structure to learn about themselves. They can easily learn some basic skills of self defense. Proper teaching gives the child a grounded approach to life. Goals of protecting themselves and others who cannot protect themselves are good concrete ideas to teach. Teaching them it is their responsibility to protect themselves will change their lives. The experience can positively affect their attitudes. Students have a life outside of martial arts class. The discipline of the art can insert a sense of priority where their safety is concerned. Important as that is, few of them will ever study to become martial artists.
Many of them, because they are young, love to play and see everything as play. They take karate like they play baseball or soccer. They are involved in several pursuits that keep them busy. Parents are accustomed to transporting their children from one activity to another. Children and their siblings are usually active in classes for music, dance, sports, school, church, and entertainment. They and their friends find time to try on a number of hats. They play roles of many kinds to find something they like to do. The martial arts for most are one of the things they do until their interest is taken by another pursuit. The few who stay with the art are able to find every pleasure from it. Most can be counted on to leave. This is a natural occurrence and the teacher should anticipate the event. Some students will take with them a new and better perspective on whom they are and what they can do. Many will only recall that the study of self defense was different from they thought it would be. They had such a glamorous image of it from television and the movies that never quite matched the many repetitions of punching, kicking and being hit. The reality of fighting was nothing like the heroic exploits of their favorite cartoon characters.
Beyond the other classes they attend, the school work they do and other sports, martial arts can pervade all of those things. Most will not know it. A good teacher will let them learn what they are able and allow them to move on with no regret. Good teachers know they will make an impact but good martial art teachers learn they cannot choose the individual or degree of impact made.
The Chinese say, "To know one thing is to know ten thousand things."
While we learn in groups and in cooperation with our training partners, the martial arts are truly a very personal activity. In sharing we show each other the things we found exploring our own frontiers. The Chinese say, "To know one thing is to know ten thousand things.". It is in applying the things we know that we find the things we do not know. Coupled with the known and unknown we find fascination in the search for the truth. This is what make learning constant for students and teachers alike. Appropriate training begins with a match of instructor and student. The student learns best from a teacher they respect, admire and one who speaks their language not the other way around. The teacher needs to remember the perspectives of the students and bring to the partnership a degree of awareness and compassion coupled with humility and inner strength. The teacher need not be all knowing but must be able to share with students to help them understand. The teacher must be genuine and sincere for students to take accurate measure. To teach students to become themselves, not clones of their instructors, the teacher needs to allow activities within the structure of the program that enable the metamorphosis of a child to a person. The student must come to know that there are similarities in the anatomy of all people. They need to know how their bodies work and that other people's bodies work mostly the same way. In this information of shared experience is understanding. A child needs to know they have strengths. They need to know about their weaknesses and how to protect them. They want to feel confident and know they can respond effectively. Life is full of knocks.
Children have some degree of support at home and it is the support they get that help them to cope with the knocks of life. Their self esteem is strengthened when they have the support of others. They feel good about themselves. When they have little or no support from others they lack self esteem and do poorly when life gets bumpy. Training in self defense can help a child cope with the specific events of confronting and asserting themselves. Many children gain a general confidence through the study of self defense and they can be better able to manage other tasks because they have a can-do-attitude. For man of the students this training is the first attempt to teach them independence and encourage them to take responsibility for themselves. Appropriate training can do that.
A body of information as vast as the martial arts is only to be experienced one person at a time. It is this individual experience that makes the martial arts so diverse. How we learn and what we learn is not only a function of our teachers but of ourselves. Individual perspectives, capacities and limitations naturally flavor learning. We delight in learning about our selves.
Anyone can take classes from a local school or a friend. In fact for every organized commercial school you see in your town, at the mall or near the grocery store, there are two qualified instructors teaching students in their garage, in church multipurpose rooms and at local civic centers. Students who are able to stay long enough with a program to be promoted to higher ranks are usually given the opportunity to instruct new students. There are at least two reasons for this. One is that the senior instructor wants help teaching the basics to new people. It gets boring if one does it all the time.
The other is that there is nothing better for learning a subject than having to teach it to others.
The other is that there is nothing better for learning a subject than having to teach it to others. New instructors need to know more about their art and use the vehicle of teaching students to learn. Instructing requires verbalizing ones thoughts, demonstrating ones motion and exposing beliefs and abilities to the questions of others. Such a situation will make or break most instructors. They cannot bluff their way through. It requires usable motion and sound ideas. The teaching situation forces the instructor to teach what works. They must go beyond what they can make work for themselves and teach what works for the students. Some instructors find a curriculum which is easy to teach and does not challenge their ideas. Students seem to go through the program just fine. They pay the rent on the school or make some pocket money for their teachers. The students learn a bit about self defense or sport karate and move along. Most of the students move part way through the curriculum and stop. A few of them move onto higher ranks. Some go on to instruct themselves and continue the monkey see, monkeys do training with only a few learning to challenge themselves to take their training to a higher level.
A few instructors use teaching as a tool to look closely at their subject. The best of them learn to test their assumptions about their system and their style. They question what they know and create from this crucible of scrutiny a new vision of martial issues and more. They learn to see the insights of masters who have gone before them. A few who master their system go on to create a new style which is influenced by their own insights.
For you readers who are not martial artists I will explain the difference between taking karate classes and being a martial artist. Most people who take classes stop short of becoming an artist. Like painting, music and all other art forms there are differences in ability among the participants. There are those amateurs who appreciate yet cannot create for themselves. There are good practitioners who can imitate the masters and are artists in their system. The best are those who first master their system and go on to create a style or entirely new system which reflects their philosophy, energy and spirit.
They are unique and distinguish themselves within their community as true artists.
They are unique and distinguish themselves within their community as true artists. The difference among practitioners in the martial arts is in the depth of understanding the issues of the subject and the ability to create effective motion.
It is within the context of these ideas that we approach the subject of teaching martial arts to children. We are probably not going to create many martial artists at a tender age. Some of what we do is going to be ignored or forgotten. Some of the lessons will be remembered fondly by aging parents whose children beg them to take karate classes. The task of teaching children is sometimes little more than indulging a fantasy of the child. It can be a waste of time. For the few who will be affected by learning about self defense we are obliged to take heart and do our best. They deserve our full attention and we owe them our best effort. We ought to strive to be a role model. An example of the best martial artist they will ever know. We have a great responsibility to teach all we can because we have no idea whom we will influence and how much of an impact we will have on their lives.
Football legend Vince Lombardi used to say, It's not practice that makes you good; it's perfect practice.
Ah, yes, perfect practice. Wouldn˜t that be nice? As instructors, how do we make that happen? How do we motivate our young students to strive for perfect practice? The answer to this comes in two parts. First, we prepare our students to be mentally focused during training. In martial arts, the essence of perfect practice resides in four easy-to-learn mental focus points:
Rate Yourself on a Scale from 1 to 10
The Concept of Healthy Competition
Train as if It were Real
In his best-selling book Unlimited Power, motivational speaker Tony Robbins suggests that the quality of one's life resides in the quality of the questions one asks oneself. Each of the four mental focus points above can be framed as questions that you teach your students to ask themselves as they practice:
Is this the very best I can do?
Is there anyone in class trying harder than I am?
Where am I, what am I doing, and is it real?
Am I learning anything and am I getting any better?
By using these four focus points the instructor is:
1) Expecting the students to operate at the highest levels of intensity they can muster and then monitor their intensity themselves;
2) Encouraging students to compete with other students to be the most intense, vocal, technically proficient, and so forth, and to be aware if anyone is outperforming them;
3) Physically, mentally, and emotionally making practice as close to reality as possible?to treat each block as if their very life depended on it, each punch and kick as if it needed to be the best they had ever thrown; and
4) Teaching students to create an internal dialogue that asks, Am I learning any- thing from my practice and am I improving with each repetition?
Part two of the answer on how to get young students to strive for perfect practice is summed up in the words, repetition and expectation. Repetition
We're going to teach children about perfect practice by repeating these concepts so often, so consistently, that they would no sooner forget their own names than they would these four focus points. By the way, here's a great in-class technique that illustrates just how thoroughly you're going to expect your young students to know these four points:
Instructor: [gestures to student] What is your name?
Student: [responds instantly] Johnny, sir!
Instructor: [said with humor] Good answer, Johnny! That's how well I want you to know these four mental focus points. Know them like you know your own name, always on the tip of your tongue, imbedded in brain, waiting to be used when you need them!
If we want to create an environment of perfect practice in the classroom then we're going to have to raise the bar on the expectations we have for our students.
There are many things that we as instructors expect from our students. For example, we expect them to come to class with both eyes open. We expect them to come to class dressed in either street clothes or appropriate training attire. If a student lined up for class while still asleep or in his underwear we would immediately stop what we were doing and remedy the problem. So, too, must we expect students to operate in classes at the extreme limit of their potential. Anything less than an all-out effort should prompt us to take immediate action. It's up to us to set this standard and never to deviate from it.
One of the solutions I attempt when working with ADHD or children with other behavioral problems is to send them to a martial arts school. It's one of the first things I do rather than fill them up with Ritalyn.
But, let me tell you what you owe me, the teachers, preachers and the other folks who are sending these kids to you. We demand and we expect that you will teach our children focus. I don't personally care if they learn to defend themselves. Other people do, but I want you to teach my kids how to focus, how to manage their anger and how to develop self-discipline. Then if they learn self-defense, that's just the icing on the cake.
Hopefully, with the focus, anger management and self-discipline, they won't be in your face kids. They will learn their boundaries and they won?t be the subject or the brunt of bullies because you've taught them to be good people. Now that's what I want.
It Has to Work At Home Too
I don't know how much you deal with the word generalization. but when I get a mom and kid in, I'll suggest martial arts because I think that generalization is the key. This means that if what you teach them to do in your classrooms works beautifully in your school but doesn't work for me as a mom or for me as a teacher then I have wasted my referral.
I am being very harsh here but I have seen kids go into a martial arts establishment and it's yes, sir and yes ma'am and a polite handshake. There, they are wonderfully behaved. That doesn't mean a hill of beans to me as a mom if the kid comes home and is non-compliant or as a teacher if the child does not listen. I need you to help them generalize this into the home because that is what is going to help me and it is also what is going to help keep those kids in your schools. It's going to help your retention rate. As the teacher, you have to think, how am I going bring this to the home?
Yesterday, a four-year-old bit me. I was trying to teach him to shake hands so he bit me. This is just an example but you go up to a nine-year-old, hold out your hand and they give you the wrong hand. These kids don't know how to shake hands. But those who have martial arts training do. I don't need them to bow to me, but I need them to say, Hello, how are you?.