Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Use Your Powers For Good

Teaching is a veritable Monkeyland minefield .....
There you are, self appointed head monkey, teaching volunteer junior monkeys to dance.
The whole thing is a set up for potential stupidity, and the worst part is that you are IN Monkeyland, with all it's rules and scripts, and because you are in it, it's hard to see them.

Here are the ones I've at least noticed, and this is from the teacher end, not the student end -

Status is a tricky thing - get some as a teacher and some part of you wants to keep it, or get more. It'll make you want to stay in your comfort zone, never risk losing - to anyone, and always create the impression that you know all the answers. It'll have the tendency to make you stop experimenting or putting yourself in situations where you can screw up ... i.e. it will make you avoid risk and chaos as much as possible. And it will make you occasionally tyrannical if you think that status is being challenged.
Status will also make you want to pander to your 'followers' - Make them like you, re-affirm your status, enjoy the time they spend with you, find you entertaining, be comfortable, succeed, get their egos stroked ... so they keep coming back. Make it easy, non confrontational, nice.

On the other hand, this same status can give you the attention of those open to learning new things. Status can give you the opportunity to lead by example, open peoples' minds and imaginations, teach how to enjoy problem solving and critical thinking, how to be present, mindful, aware, alive.
As a teacher you can create environments to show alternative ways to be, encourage excellence, reward growth, be ethical and upstanding in decision making and choices, and refuse to get drawn in to all the monkey games that the in built hierarchy of a martial arts class can tempt you with.

I don't think it's easy, I personally have to keep watch on myself on a regular basis to make sure I'm not getting trapped, but if I remember what I'm here for, what the point of what I'm doing IS ... then it's easier.
I don't want to create carbon copies of me, or loyal fans that think I'm great. I want to create students that can beat me at my own game. Once they can do that they should move on as I can't teach them anything more.
And that would be just fine with me.

If, at the same time, I can pass on the same joy I get from playing Eskrima, that would be awesome too.

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