The Quantum Karateka

…step outside the dojo.

Some more thoughts on teaching

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Just some more thoughts I had from this past Sunday’s study group session.

It’s interesting to me that teachers are under-appreciated in civil society and over-appreciated in the martial arts. I feel like the teacher is only half the equation; the other half being the hunger that the student brings to the table. That hunger is essentially what teaches the student. You start off with a teacher because you want access to the knowledge, whatever it is. Reading or watching things can only do so much. But your teacher is nothing more than a gateway into something that you bring your enthusiasm and willingness to explore on your own. When I say teachers are “over-emphasized” in the martial arts what I mean to say is that they are looked at as final authorities on truth. As though they are the perfected ideal of what you came there to learn. Well, sometimes you start off thinking that way perhaps. But no, they’re the doorway. You went inside on your own. Now it’s your job to keep going, keep expanding your understanding. You are here to learn something for yourself. So that’s what I was feeling the other day at the study group: I’m in a teaching role, yes. But it’s more like I’m a video game level boss intended to be defeated (albeit a pretty easy one); I’m a guidepost pointing the Way (although it’s possible I’m turned completely in the wrong direction and all graffitied up); I’m here for the student to eventually move past, not enter into a life-long co-dependent relationship with.

Hmmm. Just a side note here: I’m wondering if “mentoring” is something else entirely? Like, it’s related to teaching, but it’s more about noticing and bringing out what already lies within the student. Or maybe it’s all the same thing?

When I say teachers are “under-appreciated” in civil society, what I’m saying is that to be able to clearly transmit knowledge to another human being takes skill and it takes patience and dedication. That’s not something you can just go to teacher school to learn how to do. That’s something that comes from within I think. Teaching is under-appreciated I think because it’s so invisible. It happens so many times in so many places, in big and small ways, everyday, and not just in traditional “school” settings of course. Like when a friend shows you how to dance. Or when a parent shows you how to cook a healthy meal. The point of teaching someone is to help them, essentially I think, to become functional on their own. Without teachers, where would the human race be? We’d still be thinking we live on a flat planet. We’d still be thinking the sun actually goes up and down. We’d still be literally in the dark (cause fire right? Someone had to teach someone else how to make it). Teaching is under-appreciated because it’s so commonplace, we don’t even see it happening. Like, we take it for granted or something. But the individual doing the teaching, they really have to be able to take this large body of knowledge, sometimes really complex stuff, and make it make sense so that it can be useful to someone else. That’s no small job. Maybe that’s what Krishnamurti meant when he said:

Teaching is the greatest vocation in life, though now it is the most despised; it is the highest, the noblest of callings. But the teacher must be utterly dedicated, he must give himself to it completely, he must teach with his heart and mind, with his whole being; and out of that dedication things are made possible.

Just my thoughts.

– QK


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