Teaching and Ethics

The instructors I have met over the years whom I respect the most have said that their art has to keep growing and changing to remain anything beyond a museum piece. Sadly, the flip side of this issue is that most teachers don't have the skills, experience, or personal genius to bring anything new and valuable to any aspect of the traditional curriculums without ruining what came before.

Similarly, a teacher should be an expert in what he or she is teaching, both theoretically and practically, before he or she begins to do so. Conversely, it is equally true that teaching can make a good practitioner and teacher even better with time. Of course, this also implies that the students you teach a decade or two down the road will get better instruction than those you taught at the beginning of your career.

But, if it is of any consolation to those who realise that they were the early students of a particular teacher, I am sure that even though Stradivari was producing superior violins at the end of his career, the ones he first made were probably still pretty damn good. Everyone has to start somewhere on every journey.

It is also true that those who learn in traditional clubs with large group classes will be learning mostly from senior students, rather than having the attention of the chief instructor. This is not an easy way to learn as the quality of teaching will vary from senior student to senior student, but the variety in itself can be stimulating to the inquiring student with a drive to understand which of these lesser role models is on track for any particular topic.

In theory, a good teacher will assign coaching roles only to those apprentice instructors with the requisite skills and will be present at most of the classes if needed. Consequently, in some more traditional bagua environments you will be expected to teach as part of the long-term learning process, and your interest in teaching is of less relevance than the wishes of the chief instructor.

However, in a more modern bagua environment you may have to decide if you want to teach. If you don't want to be a coach for those junior to you in the student body, you should be able to say "No, thanks!" without repercussions.

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