|Indiana Jones teaching|
|Ip Man and his student Bruce Lee|
Class size may play the biggest role in how you teach. If you are in front of a class with only a couple of students, then the interaction will be more personal. You will be able to deal with the individual's needs. What does Bob need to work on to become a better at Kung Fu? Maybe he's quicker at learning forms, but needs a longer time with learning and seeing applications. Mary may be better at applying the form, but needs to work on her conditioning. With small class size, you can split your time between both of these extremes. In larger classes, there are too many people to fully gain individual instruction. A good teacher will tend to teach to the middle ground in this situation. They will work with ideas and concepts that everyone needs practice with.
Different Learning Styles
Modeling is a method of teaching by demonstrating. This is the most common method of instruction in martial arts. The instructor demonstrates a technique, or principle, and then the student follows their example. The amount of explanation depends mainly on the system. From what I've heard, in the old school Japanese systems, the instructor would demonstrate the technique a couple of times, and without any explanation, tell the students to go practice. When the students got the techniques I believe they were able to internalize them a lot more than we do today. I think our western brains require us to intellectualize something before we can do it. We have to have explanations. If you teach, try it both ways, and find your own happy balance between explanation and intuitively learning the technique.
|Teaching means you learn more.|
Teach what you know
One of the biggest pitfalls of instruction is ego. It is OK to not know everything. One of the weirdest situations I've ever encountered was a fellow high school science teacher. When he didn't know an answer, he was so scared of looking foolish or ignorant in front of students that he'd make answers up. Many times he was dead wrong with his answers. When a student would try to, politely mind you, call his answer wrong, he'd have to back-peddle, and flub his response, which made him look more foolish. It is much wiser to say "You know I'm not sure, let's find out." Students will have more respect if you don't know an answer, but can point them in the direction to find it.
As part of this idea, don't go beyond yourself. Don't try to instruct a subject you don't understand, that you haven't internallized. You can teach a form, but unless your sure of yourself, don't try to reach beyond your understanding and teach the applications of the form, your students will know. Remember they have a lot of practice being students.
There are lots of other hints that people can give to newly minted instructors. There are whole fields of psychology dedicated to the methods of how the human brain learns. These are just a few pointers. Because I've met many great martial artists, who cannot teach what they know effectively and that means their information is trapped. It cannot reproduce itself in the next generation. And that is a real problem for their art.