Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I got to TKD a bit later than I planned yesterday. And I had the keys! But when Eli and I arrived, the door and gate were already open . . .

Upstairs, Patrick was there. Ms. Pryor had noted that he was the "teacher" for the day; I was to assist and help keep order in the class, etc. But Alex and his dad Bill were also there.

"I think they forgot that Master Hughes had asked Alex to teach," said Bill. "We've been doing this for a while. Alex writes up what he wants to do in class, and I help out."

This is the way we did class, then. Alex and Patrick took turns leading: stretching, warm up kicks, basic moves, forms. And Bill and I helped by keeping things going, stopping to give general instructions, and giving individual attention to the 7 or 8 children in the class.

I like the way this partnership worked. Alex and Patrick, both about 11 years old, are excellent at their forms and stances. Much better than I am! They were great examples, and gave a serious, focused feeling to the class. But they needed the help of adults to organize the activities, watch and instruct, which Bill and I could do. It was a bit tricky to have several "teachers" now and then, but mostly we worked just fine.

Just because someone is good at something does not mean that person can teach. That person can be a good model, or example, but it takes different skills to teach. You have to know how to break down material for students to learn. You have to know how to pace a class. You have to know when to give individual attention. You have to know how and when to correct.

And you have to have authority and presence, things that children just don't have. Those are things you earn as you get older.

But letting the children serve as examples while the adults kept class moving and seemed like a good way to get children involved in teaching without asking them to do something they really can't yet do.

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