View Full Version : What makes a good teacher(and student)

09-06-2004, 02:04 AM
I would like to re-start a topic Paul has brought up many times. Being good at the art is most important, but is this enough? On the other hand, just being caring and helpful but hardly understand what you are teaching would not convince your students and convey unseriousness.

From my experience, listening with your eyes, skin and heart helps to a great deal. Every group and or every person responds differently to different approaches and the teacher needs to adapt sometimes. A good teacher makes a good student, but a good student will make a good teacher.

I also found out that overcorrecting would be counterproductive at times but turning a blind eye to habitual and health-threatening mistakes would not be too much of the benefit of the student. Compliments are very often helpful for beginners or the less self-confident in order to create flow, focus and relaxation. BALANCE between the two would be the ideal. What do you think?

09-06-2004, 07:07 AM
A teacher MUST know the art they are teaching. A good salesperson could motivate students to learn anything, but this would be pretty bad if the students mislearned the art. Credentials of some sort are needed to show that the teacher really knows the art.

Different students will respond to different approaches, both as beginners, but as their needs change over time. A teacher needs to be flexible enough to adjust, affiliate themselves with an array of assistants, or be prepared to refer students to other teachers as needed. At the martial arts school I attend, the director teaches his advanced students (usually four years +) to start becoming teachers. Beginner classes are run in part by more advanced students. Advanced students receive more of his personal attention. Really advanced students are encouraged to seek transcendent experiences; for example, a 10th year and 6th year student recently came back from spending time with a well-known master (Gary Wasiniewski, for you London based Karate students) in England.

Warmth can be a big part of being a good teacher, as can doing what is needed to gain the respect of the students without belittling them. I've worked hardest for teachers who were not particularly warm, but had great credentials (National Championships and Olympic medals) and who conveyed to me that they expected steady improvement.

The emotional needs of students change over time, and a teacher needs to read that and assess accurately how to respond. Several students I've seen have gone through divorces or other personal tragedies during their training. Some NEED the school to be reliable and the same as always, while others benefit from recognition of their distress and an extra dose of attention during a hard time. As you say, Soraya, a good teacher must be very attuned to the students to get this right.

Books are written on this topic, so I'll quit now. Bill

09-06-2004, 10:07 AM
Learning is a two way process, teachers can also be students, and students can also be teachers. We all offer different ways of looking at things.

09-06-2004, 07:19 PM
2 essential things make up a good taichi teacher.
because there is such a humongous pile of information to impart to the student a good teacher must:
1.communicate that information so that the student can clearly understand it and:
2 communicate it in such a way that that the student will be able to effectively put it into practice.
if you can do both you've passed the test;you are a good teacher.

Dr. Paul Lam
09-08-2004, 03:02 PM
i wrote an article some years back on this topic, link below. I am writing a new book "How to teach tai chi effectively". Hope to hear your idea on the topic.

09-08-2004, 04:39 PM
Hi Sorya

Good thread to start again it is a topic that I think is never ending.
When I student becomes a teacher they do not stop being a student. A good teacher is always learning and strives to pass on their knowledge and experience. As the journey is never ending

Paul good article keep them coming I like many others have read this one and the other articles. Look forward to your new book

09-08-2004, 11:14 PM
My mother and me have incorporated our knowledge of self-hypnosis and autogenic training. Not that we put our students in a deep hypnotic state but we simply use the methods of autosuggestions to facilitate learning.

Yes a teaching never stops being a student, he/she continues to learn the art itself apart from how to communicate effectively. One also learn by teaching, every lesson is an enrichment and learning process for the teacher himself. You will learn how to read different people and how to bridge the gap between you and them. My mum and me are martial artist and we have to cross the border between our learning experience and the needs of the less active and talented. On the other hand, PLEASE DONT underestimate beginners Many beginners are athletic, active more important their brain is active and they are uncontaminated and unprejudiced, don't have to unlearn bad habits.

It is important to show respect for the student without turning a blind eye to mistakes. we therefore give the new student rather encouragement than criticism. In the beginning we place more emphasis on flow, relaxation and focus rather than too precise movements. However cardinal mistakes like crooked back or passing the knee over the toe is corrected immediately. Watch and listen is the key here.

We incorporate commands in the 3rd person without addressing a particular student. Inbetween the directions for the forms we speak 2-word sentences like "back straight""relax""focus""let go""beware the knee" in repetition. We don't say"your back is not straight" but"the back is straight""the mind is relaxed""the head is empty""no mind"etc.....etc...with a rather monotonous voice but not boring, strong enough to be put accross. Uncritical teaching is also the key not like some instructors"many people make this and that mistake" because we refrain from all sort of negation. Good compliment before correcting when it is something you can't live with and is a peril to somebody's health.

09-13-2004, 03:09 AM
This might be a spin-off from the thread"Dr. Lam can yu fight?" by Georgi in the "ask dr. Lam" section.

About coaching: it is a general misconception that a coach cannot be authoritarian and disciplined whenever needed. Especially in pre-Olympic training, I had a coach who was a friend, coach, teacher but could yell when the athletes were floppy which i thought was justified many times. She had drinks with us, accepted corrections from our side when given diplomatically, she never overcorrected, she gave a lot of praise, talked about her won weaknesses but discipline and diligence was KEY.

Most coaches were former athletes who share their experience. many times their performance is less than their athletes due to their age and later lack of training. They do impart their experience in the first place, motivation, able to fire(and scream) when athletes were undisciplined or ill-behaved.

I do catch your drift about traditional teaching in China, although many younger and even older teachers are improving their attitude now. I do know an old Chinese master in Sydney who used to criticise all the time, now that he grew older he starts to give a lot of encouragement and praise

09-14-2004, 11:28 AM
I think there is a difference between coaching athletes and the caring approach of a physical therapist when working with a patient

09-14-2004, 11:42 AM
There are differences between coaching and physical therapy, although I belive both need to understand psychology and anatomy. Both need to be able inspire and encourage, and have understanding of how people work!

Since I do not do either job, perhaps someone who does can explain their jobs to give the rest of a better understanding?

09-14-2004, 05:19 PM
A coach to high-performance athletes needs to be tougher at times, require discipline, demand performance and be authoritarian when needed. On the other hand they are friendly, cordial, more friend then downward.

Both coach and physical therapist needs to listen. You are right Caroline about psychological and anatomical background. Any other view from new members maybe? From people who else never participate?