Over the years, I have had some great teachers. Please make note of the word “great” for it was accurately chosen. Not only were they talented, but they inspired, motivated and brought out the very best in their students. It was a honor to be a part of every class or seminar.
Over the years, I have had some . . . .well. . . opposite experiences. The irony here is that some of these teachers had skills levels that were very high. They were very talented and had the rank to back it up. Real rank. Earned rank. Not tae kwon do, “McDojo”rank. The problem was, was that did not exhibit the strength needed to be a teacher.
So what makes a strong or weak teacher? Granted, both a “loaded” and highly subjective question. Here are my answers:
Strong Teachers take control of their classes, not their students. In other words, a strong teacher sets the bar for the class and challenges the students to meet or surpass these. They do not dictate. They inspire. A Weak Teacher sets the bar low and even then, will accept the fact that many will not reach the bare minimum. They accept, regardless of effort or potential.
Strong Teachers fill up the space with their energy. They are enthusiastic, demonstrative, and their passion will permeate every corner of the dojo. Weak ones fill up the space with their words. They talk too much and project too little.
Strong Teachers do not allow seminars to break out in the middle of seminars. Weak ones do. Ever experience this? There will be a seminar with say, 100 people. In one corner, a group of 5 will be doing something totally different. In another corner, a group of 6 will be doing something else. In the meantime, the Head Instructor is presenting something completely unique. The end result is a series of mini seminars within a big one. Chaos.
Strong Teachers are the benevolent dictators; that is, they allow for questions and opinions but make no mistake, THEY are in charge. Weak Teachers allow other students to correct, teach and (mis-) interpret their lessons. Thus the student does not get a direct lesson. They get another’s interpretation of the Head Teacher’s lesson.
Strong Teachers will present strong lessons. Weak Teachers will present contrast. Both have value. Both are useful. The former will take you to new heights. The latter will remind you why you want to find a Strong Teacher.