By Erik Hofmeister
In medicine, we have an (arguably broken) saying: see one, do one, teach one. This month, Ken, Susan, Hali, Jon, and I began work on our Martial Arts Certification for Instructors. This program, we hope, will make us better teachers. And that’s important.
As soon as students are capable, I try to get them involved in teaching other students. There is a lot of evidence coming out of educational psychology that indicates people learn better in a collaborative setting, when they can both learn and teach. In fact, the lecture setup- where someone just spouts information at attentive students- is one of the least efficient means of teaching information.
I regularly learn while teaching. I distinctly remember teaching a turn in a Kyuki-Do form- the second form you ever learn- which had been a very difficult move for me to master. After teaching it, I was able to conceptualize it in a different way which made the move much easier (I still call it the hardest move you learn in Kyuki-Do before your blackbelt). If you’re not learning when you’re teaching, then maybe something is wrong.
I used to think that students would just know how to teach. It’s not something that anyone ever taught me, so I never thought of it as a separate skill. That is, until I encountered students who needed a lot of work to develop their teaching skill. I realized that I couldn’t just launch students into teaching other students- they needed more supervision. Now, I watch students teach and give them feedback to make them better. The best way to improve a skill- ANY skill, which includes teaching- is to practice it and receive feedback on your performance. I want my students to teach like they do their kata- not just adequately, but _well_.
I see students evolve all the time after teaching. Having to explain the material and demonstrate it makes them think of it in an entirely different way. I find that most students don’t really start to learn a form until they teach it. Teaching students how to teach has the added benefits of expanding their skill set, allows the head instructor to effectively delegate teaching roles, and prepares the students to be instructors themselves in the future. More students teaching and learning how to teach equals good. Athens Yoshukai, the Teaching Dojo.