What Makes A Good Teacher?
What makes a good teacher?
There are many things we could say to this, skill, knowledge, experience, and all the obvious points..
In my opinion it is not enough that the teacher knows his or her stuff but that they also train alongside the students and keep their own abilities developing.
Provided they can of course.
If age, injury or disability play a part in this prevention then so be it.
For me personally I am very aware if I’ve been on holiday or away for any length of time, coming back to class and feeling that I am lacking and needing to get back into it to regain some kind of an edge.
Not an edge over my students you understand, but an edge to my own skills, a sharpness if you like.
Really we should all study hard and train hard, ask all the questions we can from our teachers, but then begin to ask questions from ourselves.
This transition from always taking from the style to one day giving something back, is one sign of a good teacher, one who is creative in their teaching, able to give more dimension to the art and yet at the same time able to simplify it.
Lead by example.
Do not ask of your students what you’re not prepared to do yourself.
It is so easy to lose sight of what is going on while watching from an ivory tower, instead, get in there and do not think of yourself as the teacher but as one of the students.
“The man who claims to know everything is a fool, for his learning has ceased”.
I remember at a seminar somewhere in the UK, a student asking Grandmaster Ip Chun;
“What’s the difference between the student and the Master?”
To which he replied;
“The student makes the simple look difficult and the Master makes the difficult look simple“.
A wonderful answer indeed, but we must still remember two things;
In order to one day be able to make the difficult look simple, this takes hard work from the student.
Inorder to keep it that way takes hard work from the Master.
Sifu (Ip Chun) once said to me:
“A good teacher (who at the same time is still trying to improve oneself), is like a fish trying to swim up stream.
It’s hard work yes, but worth the struggle.
If you are happy to just tread water then fine, granted you will not improve but you will not decline either.
But the moment you stop your personal training, and begin walking around as though you are something special, you will begin to be dragged downstream”.
I have seen this before, many times, when a teacher has proudly spoken to me of how his students are improving, and in fact so much that they are even testing the them!
Unfortunately their joy is short lived when I inform them that their students are not as good as they think, as it is not the students are moving up but the teacher (skill wise) is dropping down to meet them.
Check your ego in at the door and train together with your students, what are you afraid of?
Scared that you might learn something?