Teacher-Student Relationships

Teacher-Student Relationships


Should teachers and students be allowed to date? No comment. That is not what this article is about.

As I have discussed in previous articles, there are different general methods of teaching and different methods of learning. Instructors can teach in different ways and students learn in different ways. Matching these types of teaching and learning can greatly enhance the transfer of knowledge and abilities from teacher to student.

Many times, I have seen an instructor (let’s call him “Teacher A&rdquoWinking participate in a class taught by another instructor (“Teacher B&rdquoWinking, then later seen that instructor (A) try to teach in the same way as B did. While teacher B may have taught a very interesting and educational class, teacher A may not come up with the same results. Teacher A may be a fine instructor. But perhaps he is just not used to the teaching style and/or subject matter that is Teacher B’s specialty. Teacher A may be a fantastic motivator, getting students to train hard in the basics, while Teacher B may be great at giving technical explanations. They each have a skill set that is valuable to students. But these skills are quite different. Furthermore, just because one set of students learns a lot and/or enjoys a certain teaching style or class subject, that does not mean that everyone does. Teacher A may benefit from trying to teach some different subjects, or from trying to teach some familiar subjects from some new angles or different approaches. On the other hand, Teacher A may have more success by teaching in the way he always has.

For reference, see articles from April 2001 (teaching), November 2001 (teaching changes), June 2003 (who should teach whom) and May 2002 (the value of training).

While it is obviously ideal to have an instructor whose teaching style matches the student’s learning style, this is not always possible, or at least not on a regular basis. Having multiple instructors in the same dojo really helps, particularly if these instructors have different teaching styles. Attending seminars can be very valuable, particularly if there are multiple instructors at such events (such as at the Hoitsugan Seminars). It is also valuable, as could be witnessed at such an event, to have instructors who can speak in the native language of the students. Spoken language is not as crucial a component in some types of teaching/learning combinations and particularly if the subject matter is very performance-based. But if there is technical explanation on biomechanics, for example, or strategy theory, having an instructor who can speak the language of the students can really help.

An instructor should be able to “connect” with the students, preferably in a common language. Many students just leave everything up to the instructor, who supposedly knows best. But for some students, it is very important for the teaching method to fit their learning style. And for some students, they would like to have more of a connection than simply teaching-learning karate; some would like guidance for their lives outside of karate as well, to some extent. It is up to the teacher(s) to manage expectations and do regular check-ups to see if the students are finding the teaching educational, valuable and enjoyable.

Copyright © 2022, Jon Keeling (originally published May 2005)