Friday, August 30, 2013

12 signs of a true teacher

I have been writing only about the pretenders so far. Enough of those negative characters!
Now let’s talk about identifying a teacher, who can even become a mentor for you.
This is not only relevant to the martial arts teacher, but anyone who is in the business of disseminating knowledge.

The signs of a true teacher -
1.       He has long years of dedicated practice
 I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field. 
So, if somebody puts in say 10 hours a week in pursuing his passion, he would have totalled only 500 odd hours in a year. At that rate it would take 20 years to claim to be an expert in any field of interest.
Most of the great teachers I have come across put in not less than 30 hours a week in practice..and they have been at it relentlessly for at least 20 years!
2.        He has a clear road map for the student's progress
The teacher is able to chalk out a route and mark the milestones for the student.
The student is clear where he stands at any point of time.
3.       A true teacher will not be rigid in his curriculum
He can look at the big picture and make small tweaks to his curriculum, which make it relevant to changing times and local conditions.
The teacher can also adapt the content and teaching methodology, to suit the individual idiosyncrasies of the student.
4.       A good teacher will not micro-manage your progress
A student has to be taught the fundamentals, given an objective and then left alone for some time. He will make some mistakes and do some introspection. That's the organic progression a good teacher will wait to happen, before intervening again.
5.       A true teacher's evaluation is transparent
He always tests the student only after explaining his methodology of testing.
If the student doesn’t make the mark, the true teacher specifically points out the reasons for his verdict.
He even goes further to help him rectify the errors and omissions.
6.       A good teacher will not lose sight of the basics
Whenever the student has a doubt, the teacher will refer him back to the basics. This enables the student to get a strong foundation, to build his progress upon.
The teacher gives a clear framework of reference, that works even without his presence.

7.       A true teacher will let go off the student  who wants to find his own path
Everyone have their own priorities..and these priorities also keep changing.
In spite of his dedication the teacher will see some promising students opting for some other pursuit. This is the reality a true teacher will accept with a shrug.
Most of the great teachers manage only a handful of protégés, even after a life time of mentoring.
8.       A true teacher will criticize without vehemence
A student will remember the anger, but forget why he provoked the teacher. So the teacher will be careful not to cloud his criticism with anger or frustration.
 If at all he shows his rare anger, it will be only to make a point which he wants the student never to forget, in his entire life time.
9.       A true teacher will praise without misguiding
A true teacher will use words of praise judiciously. The praise should function as an adrenalin shot and raise the bar for the student.
The teacher will also not appreciate frivolously and frequently, where it becomes a trivial non-event.
10.   A true teacher will never insist "This is how it’s done"
He will listen to the student and show him the advantage of doing the lesson in one way and the disadvantages of doing it other ways.
The teacher will even go further, depending on the student's maturity, and show variations of the lesson;  but he will be careful not to overload the student, with too many variations.
11.   A good teacher is also a great learner. He is always curious.
Every expert I have come across never becomes complacent. He is on the constant lookout for fresh inputs that will enable him to add layers of interpretation; this layering is very important when teaching, since the student can be taught in small components and then all the components can be joined together finally.
12.   Finally, the true teacher will never feel threatened by a great student

On the contrary the teacher will be happy, that the seed he has planted has blossomed magnificently.In fact the teacher should endeavour to make himself redundant gradually.

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SreeRam is a KravMaga self-defence instructor at Chennai, South India. He teaches Civilians, Chennai City Police and Security.
SreeRam has started W.A.H.R (Women against harassment & Rape)an NGO devoted to increase personal safety awareness amongst women and equip them to handle sexual harassment at public and work places.
SreeRam conducts KravMaga personal safety and self-defense workshops at corporates, especially IT/BPO companies where many women work late. He has also conducted workshops, for rural women.
On 8th March 2012 ( International Women's Day) KravMaga SreeRam released a small handy booklet for women titled " 10A-s of Personal Safety for Women" 
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4 comments:

  1. I just came across this blog, and this is a fantastic post! As a teacher myself (although not of martial arts), I can relate to every one of these points, and as an aspiring student of Krav Maga, this is exactly what I would want from my teacher given my past disillusionment with martial arts.

    Thank you, Mr. Sreeram, for a wonderful article!

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