Teacher Appreciation

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Every great Warrior had at least one great teacher. Daniel San had Mr. Miyagi, and Jet Smith had Jackie Chan. Link would travel the world looking for characters to teach him the skills he needed to succeed. Aang had Monk Gyatsu, Avatar Roku, and a whole bunch of bending masters who taught him the way to master the four styles of bending. Depending on which version of the story you follow, even Batman, the ultimate independent, had Raz al Ghul to impart his initial training. Paul Muad'ib Atriedes had Gurney Haleck. Behind every Olympic champion is an amazing coach, and behind every martial arts master is a dedicated teacher.

A Good Teacher

The benefits of a teacher are fairly straightforward. They have a lot of experience so they can help you overcome obstacles that they have already overcame themselves (or helped others overcome). Basically, they save you the time and effort of learning everything from scratch on your own.

Additionally, a teacher will hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself, simply because they don't have to deal with your internal sense of pride and ego. A good teacher knows that you are better served with honest feedback, and their main concern is improving your performance, not making you feel good about yourself (except to the extent that helps you improve).

The Student

My main problem with teachers has been that they tend to hold me back, which leads to me getting bored and frustrated. I don't like feeling like I'm just another casual student and to be subjected to the same limitations and regulations, especially when I demonstrate that I am actually a more dedicated student. If I'm going to the trouble of getting a teacher, it's because I am taking the project seriously.

On the other hand, I know I have a tendency to push myself too quickly. So the teachers that I work best with are those that know when to hold me back, but can also recognize when I've mastered something, even if it takes much less time than with other students. I consider myself a good student; I listen well and follow directions closely, I do my homework, and practice outside of class, do extra-credit reading, and am always looking for ways to add to the lesson. I value what my teacher has to say, and so they find it worth their time to pass on their knowledge and sincerely get involved in my training. When I sense they are pushing me to become just another faceless student, that's when I usually quit.

Maybe I'm egotistical to do that, but my learning tends to stagnate at that point anyway. I have had to learn patience in order to get the most out of my classes and lessons, but there is a balance between my patience and the teacher's willingness to teach me new things.

Surprisingly, all the teachers I've found lately have been especially good at this balance. In gymnastics, my coach does an exceptionally good job of seeing when I'm ready to move on to a more advanced skill, or when increasing the challenge of a skill will help me grasp it better. In martial arts, my teacher matches my dedication with increased attention and higher standards, as well as a willingness to delve into more complicated concepts.

I am also learning a lot from my father these days, since he's home more than he has been in the past, giving me the opportunity to interact with him. He teaches me lessons of a different sort, and in a different way than simple demonstration.

Maybe I am just more open to teachers than I have been in the past, or maybe I've finally come to accept how valuable they can be. Normally, I like to do things on my own, and many of my lessons involve personal struggles, but I've learned that a good teacher can help you find the shortcuts to make seemingly impossible skills easy to acquire. But a good teacher asks a lot from his or her student as well, especially if the knowledge they have to impart is valuable.

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