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