One problem of the student

One problem of the student is... the teacher.

The more time and trust a teacher has earned from his students, the more the teacher's problems are extrapolated.
Simply said: the teacher is good at some things and not so good at other things. If he is not careful and wise, his students will suffer from the same issues. 
Because I am aware of this problem, I am trying to avoid becoming a problem for my students. 

How can the teacher do that?
- Understand what your weakness as a teacher are and work on them.
Spend a lot of time working on weaknesses, probably even more time than on strengths. I therefore constantly explore new material, ideas and fields. If you rest yourself on your strength you will become a problem for your students if they stay too long.

- Be honest about things you don't know so much about, but if the right time to go into it is now, do your best to facilitate it.
This can mean that there is a topic floating in space that we should learn now, but I do not have a lot of experience with it. For example, when I started to teach handstands, I could only balance myself for 10 seconds. But it was still the right time to start, because the movement community was very much into handstands. My students at that time were very interested and asked me if I could teach them. Since I learned handstands with a methodical process that directly provided me with proven knowledge, I was actually able to start teaching the basics early and help people get their first 60s handstands. Because I could use knowledge that had been tested before by other people, I was able to start teaching without years and years of experience. Of course today I teach handstands better, of course it was not optimal, without question, but still my students from that time got very far and we went down the path together. So summing this up: sometimes I need to teach something I am not very experienced with and make the best of the situation.

In other times I might pick up a topic that is new to me and learn it along with my students. For example, this year we started practising BJJ. My experience with this topic was close to zero (a few trainings, one workshop, some groundfighting from my Japanese martial arts days), so I got one of my students, Simon from Hamburg, to come over to Berlin for a couple of days. Simon taught us several days for six hours a day as a group, providing us with principles and concepts so that we could explore the work in the group without him after. My role now was just to schedule the training and organise the sessions in the way I'd learned from Simon. All technical details were discussed in the group, all investigation was done together and all new insights were shared with everyone. In this situation I was not the teacher but just the organiser.

Another situation would be if the person that can teach is actually part of my group here in Berlin. One example is working with balls, which includes many different things like throwing and catching, juggling, dribbling etc., the teaching of which I passed on to Clemens, who is part of my teaching team. He is much better with this work than I am and also showed a lot of motivation in exploring the topic, so when we work with the balls I just become a student in my group and let Clemens teach.

Teachers! Do not become the problem of your students. We are all incomplete and lacking many things, but the role of the good teacher is to be aware and to compensate for this. The ego of the teacher should be tamed, so that the teacher has no problem telling the student "I cannot teach you this, you need to go to another person". Send your students away, don't hold on to them too tightly, because it will make them very weak. 

For students:
What is the personal narrative of your teacher?
Find out what the personal story and narrative of your teacher is. Why is he thinking, saying and doing things the way he is? Find out where things are coming from. Be attentive when he says something about his past. Analyse your teacher, so you don't fall into traps. Be attentive, identify any dogmatism. 

In summary:
The teacher should ask herself: What are my strengths, what are my weaknesses? Where do I risk becoming a hindrance to the development of my students because of my history? Tame your ego. Know your place.The student should ask the same about the teacher... and of course about himself as well.

Notice: I am writing about strengths and weaknesses here, but of course 'liking' and 'not liking' are very important as well in this context.

Joseph Bartz
2017