|Why I teach the way I teach
||[Apr. 24th, 2016|10:10 pm]
This weekend I was up in Vermont teaching some historical polearm classes, along with several other instructors covering different topics. All of them were quite good, but I noticed that I structured things differently in three major respects from the other classes I attended. That's not surprising - I've been teaching historical polearm once a week for several years now, while the other folks were either new to it, or had done their class a few times. I'd be amazed if we had come out the same.
(1) My classes had a bit of instruction, followed by some hands-on class drills with corrections by me and my assistant instructor Mike Luich, who did his usual great job. I do this both because people often don't translate ideas into action precisely correctly the first time through, and because I get to see where I can improve my presentation - if everyone does something systemically different from what I was trying to convey, then there's certainly room for improvement in my presentation.
(2) I try to explain why I want my students to do something in a particular way. I notice in general, martial arts teachers of all sorts often present material by saying either "This is what works", or "I do it this way". I don't accept that sort of argument for myself, so in general, I don't think its very convincing for students. I actually used to have precisely this problem before I started studying historical polearm - people would ask me how to fight like I do, and I'd say "Easy, do a, b, c, and off he goes sailing". They'd come back and say, "No, you do a, b, c, and off he goes - when we do it we get hit." It was only once I got some sort of a clue about why what I did was effective did I begin to be able to impart that to others.
Interestingly, I take my source material as a sort of proof-by-authority. In general, my starting position is that if I don't see how something works, the play is correct and my understanding is deficient, at least until I've exhausted every effort I can manage to figure things out. But part of that is because the author came from a time when these techniques were more important, and not just for sport, and getting it right often turned out to be a matter of survival.
(3) I try to stay as ego-less as I can - not an easy task for me. :) Now I'm an awfully proud guy, and very excited about my accomplishments. But it still happens now and again, that one of my students does something or sees something better than I do. (It happened on Saturday, with Gavin). I did my best to integrate his observation into the rest of the class, and indeed, will add some into future classes I teach.
It was a fantastic weekend. Mara and I haven't gone to a lot of events outside of day-trip range other than Pennsic for quite a while, and actually crashing with friends instead of staying at a motel harkened back to the SCA of my youth. We loved every minute of it. My thanks to all the folks in Mountain Freehold who made the event so enjoyable, and to Tree and Ulfr for putting us up.
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