Friday, July 08, 2005

Young teacher

The teacher at Wednesday night's all-belts class was a bit on the young side. It was 10-year old James.

It may seem odd to have a class of adults and children taught by a 10-year old. But James is a black belt, so he is expected to teach, especially when the head teachers are on vacation. He did OK, too.

The question is, can 10-year olds really teach? I suppose it depends on what you mean by teaching. As you can imagine, I have some opinions about teaching.

What a child can do: lead the class through the usual routine of stretches, kicks, basic moves, forms, and sparring practice. Children are great at memorizing, so James had the routine down.

He also could help a few people with a few basic problems with forms.

What a child (or anyone who doesn't think like a teacher) can do is address the needs of the class at that particular time.

For a child, TKD class is a routine of exercises that you go through. For many people I suppose it is the same. But for a teacher, each move, each exercise has a particular purpose and goal. A real teacher knows these goals, and the exercises are not mere busy work.

Ms. Pryor, for example, knows when we need to get moving with aerobic kicks across the floor. She sees and knows when we aren't chambering our legs right for side kicks, and she knows the exercises that will help us to do better. Master Hughes is especially good at knowing the purpose of exercises and switching up the order of activities in class to make sure we learn all we need to learn.

That's something an inexperienced teacher or a child just can't do. Yet.

This is not to say that a class with a child or inexperienced teacher is a waste of time. A good student can learn in any situation.

But a good teacher's job is to structure the class in a way that learning can take place with intensity, accuracy, and thought. I look forward to the return of our teachers so that we can have classes like this again!

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