corport Coralyn

Purple Belt Test - Reflections on Teaching

This is an interesting question for someone who spends most of her mental time thinking about and then actually teaching for a living. What follows are a few reflections on teaching TKD.

It is different from my teaching at Bucknell, in that I do not feel like an expert in the topic vis-a-vis the person being taught, and in that the age differential is much more varied - sometimes I'm teaching an age peer and sometimes someone 1/4 my age and half my height. One effect of the former is that I am often pretty unsure of myself and that I frequently make mistakes. When I teach something incorrectly, it embarrasses me and makes me feel like I have impeded other students' progress. On the other hand, this also means that as the teacher I also become the taught - I learn what mistakes I am making. Of course, I also learn to articulate means and aims of TKD and get a better handle on the terminology through teaching. AS for teaching folks of a variety of ages, as well as mental and physical capacities, generally I find this to be a positive challenge. How can I meet the student where they are at, so to speak? How much correction can they handle? how much challenge or repetition do they need? I find that I often use humor to navigate the discomforts that are inevitably a part of finding balance in regard to these questions.

I also have to fight the feeling that I am there to learn, not to teach - that I am being cheated my learning opportunities by having to spend time focusing on the needs of others. (Of course, this contradicts my own philosophy of teaching, in which all in the classroom have responsibility toward the learning environment.) This is a real consumer vs. cooperative/collective orientation, and I intellectually realize its problematics, but on many days, when I'm tired from a day of teaching class and have barely gotten myself to TKD in any case, the last thing I feel like doing is being responsible for anything but my own (absorbent) learning.

Finally, my efforts at teaching TKD make me deeply appreciate Sabum Nim's own teaching art/technique. Her ability to handle, say, ten students at a time with ten different bodies, ten different levels of capacity to concentrate, ten different self-images, and ten different skill building trajectories is humbling.