Keeping ourselves honest – with ourselves. It’s necessary for teaching excellence.

Keeping ourselves honest – with ourselves. It’s necessary for teaching excellence.

Kelly Muir at the Instructor Revolution blog put up an interesting post the other day. She was at a shooting class* and saw someone she knew, a martial arts instructor of some renown. She was impressed with the fact that this fellow enrolled in a class where he was a real student, amongst students (and probably an instructor) who didn’t know who he was or what he did.

The reason she was impressed goes well beyond the “always a student” phrase so many instructors use (and mostly don’t really mean.) It’s one thing to be a shooting instructor and go to another shooting class; it’s a very different thing for a shooting instructor to go to an archery class, or a Tai Chi class, or perhaps a calligraphy class as an absolute beginner.

It’s not so much what is learned, though that may be beneficial, but rather the attitude that is developed. It keeps us honest; it keeps us from believing our own bovine excrement.

Kelly puts it beautifully:

The idea that we as instructors need to place ourselves at risk for looking silly, making a mistake or simply not knowing, is a critical component to our own effectiveness.

I’ve more than once watched in horror as a shooting instructor, being asked a question to which he/she simply did not know the answer, made up something stupid on the fly to quell the inquisitive student. That’s the kind of hubris that develops if one is not open to admitting that one is not infallible. It’s bad for the teacher, it’s bad for the student, and it’s bad for the rest of us who are tasked with cleaning up the resulting mess.

Unbridled conceit is an inhibitor of growth, either as a teacher or simply as a human being. Putting ourselves into a position where we actually are a student, learning something about which we don’t really know anything, is a great antidote for that conceit.

Go read the whole thing. It’s worth your time.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On December 21, 2011