Guidelines for being a Good instructor

Inspired by this blog from Academie Duello

Guidelines for Being a Good Instructor

1. Your goal is to be a better swordsman

You should be doing this to be a better swordsman. Acknowledge that this should be at the center of everything you do, including instructing, and you're all good.  The real trap with teaching is getting sucked into the bullshit that comes with the whole "position of authority" thing. Teaching people because you like being a teacher smacks of ego. Teaching people because a large club is important to you smacks of ego. Ultimately if teaching isn't about making you a better swordsman then your motives are questionable.

2. Teach to learn

It’s that simple: you are teaching other people to improve your own Art. Partly it’s about creating useful training partners and partly it’s about field testing your understanding of sword fighting. Students can be relied upon to pick holes in your theory and force you to properly think through your practice. There's isn't anybody that you can't learn from while you're instructing them. If you are teaching people and not learning anything yourself then you are doing it wrong.

3. Train peers, not students

Measure success as an instructor in terms of the ass-kickings your students give you. Measure success in terms of how quickly you can turn out independent peers. This can take place in both theory and practice, though ideally both. There’s little point training people up unless they can challenge you to improve your swordsmanship.

4. Train people to think for themselves

Always facilitate constructive criticism. Peers who can only challenge you within the framework of your own ideas are sub-optimal to your personal development. Ensure that they understand how to develop ideas and opinions within the structure of the sources.

5. Cultivate healthy respect

Ensure you and your students understand the difference between respecting someone as a person and as an authority. Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.”

Ensure respect as a “person” is automatic while respect as an “authority” is earned.


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