Due to having back surgery, I have had to let a few upper-level students teach my classes. Usually, I hate relinquishing control, but in this case, I didn’t have a choice.
After class one night, one of my assistants messaged me. He had a revelation about teaching while filling in for me, one which is something all coaches and teachers need to understand.
He said, “I came to this realization that over-explanation of a technique can almost be as bad as not demonstrating it properly.”
Have you ever looked at your students and seen the glossed-over look, the one indicating they have tuned out? It doesn’t only happen in the kids’ class either. I’ve seen it with adults on the mat and at my college.
Maybe you have been a student in this situation. You think, “Come on, Coach. Quit explaining it and let us drill the dang move.”
When you are trying to teach, you must provide a certain amount of information if your students are going to understand and perform the task. But there is a breaking point, and my assistant realized it.
He said, “Past a certain point of showing the technique, you lose attention spans and the individual’s ability to tinker and do trial and error on their own. Even if you know the nuances, explaining the nuances won’t have the same return as them discovering the nuances themselves as they drill.”
If you cover the technique’s basics and let your students drill, you can then watch for the errors or missed steps. Sometimes, the students will call you over to ask, “Coach, why didn’t it work like you showed?” You now have an opportunity to go into a little more detail.
Having experienced an error and its correction, the student generally has a better understanding of the technique than someone who attempts to learn all the nuances before they are ready.
Learning takes building. It takes time. It also takes mistakes.
Don’t start with a microscopic lens when you are dealing with beginners. Use a telescope. Show them the big picture first. Don’t over-complicate the process or the information you share.
Discuss the macro-level and let the students discover the micro. Or, when they’ve stored enough of the macro, they will seek the micro from you.
Teach, and then let them discover.
It will raise the tide in the room, and a rising tide lifts all boats.
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4 thoughts on “Why Complicate Teaching?: What I Learned from my Students.”
Great little article. I think along these same lines when I am teaching techniques. Especially when teaching to younger students they tune out after a couple of minutes. Better to let them try it and fix it and adjust their technique as they go. Nice job.
Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s especially critical for kids. Keep them moving as much as possible. If it gets boring, you lose the chance in the long run to get deeper into the system.
Love this. It’s so true, being pragmatic is so much more useful to start making mistakes and jumping obstacles and hurdles until it gets easier. There needs to be a good mix of explaining techniques and practicing them, without explaining too much in detail or even practicing too much without the proper technique!
Moderation is key. Thanks for reading and commenting.