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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Insecurity and Missed Educational Opportunities


Learning is a rather complicated topic. Every educator seems to think they have the answers, including my self some days, but yet many people continue to simply fail to learn. Why is it that so many people are failing to learn when it seems as if they have access to so much? Could it be that the structures which profess to have it all may actually have the least? Are the seemingly rigid structures that encapsulate learning detouring students from real learning?

I have been working as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan for a little over a year now. Being an ALT in Japan can mean a lot of different things. For some it means they are human tape recorders where as others are recognized as an integral support to the bettering of their schools language program. *Keep Reading I promise I will talk about Martial Arts

These discrepancies in job role are dependent on many factors. The first and most important factor is the ALTs ability to plan ahead, build good relationships and generally gain the trust of their colleagues. However even the most culturally in tune and capable ALTs can come up against a lot of resistance.

Many ALTs feel under utilized, for most I would say sit back, review your learning theory and grind it out until you gain trust, sadly this isn't always enough. One of the biggest problems with foreign language education in Japan is that many of the Japanese teachers are lacking in their language abilities or worse perceive themselves to be lacking when in fact they are not.

The insecurity that can develop with in someone who feels unsure of their own ability can cause them to become protective and resistant to foreign influence. Often those who are insecure wrap themselves in a blanket of dogma. Instead of admitting they need to reach out for help they introvert proclaiming that their current frame work is the best rather than being open and receptive to the value of influences outside of their own. Though this type of attitude may protect the instructors ego it will inevitable detour from the students over all learning experience and leave the instructor stagnant and tired.

This is something that can be seen with in many veins of education including the Martial Arts. Many people rather than admitting that their structure or style is imperfect and that contact with other styles may be beneficial, build up a wall of dogma. Focusing on a few perceived strengths with in their frame work and inflating them into flimsy yet impenetrable walls.

Now for all of you working with such people I haven’t got much advice other than lead by example. Ask your self when was the last time you reached out of your comfort zone to learn something new? Or when was the last time you recommended to one of your students to take instruction from someone else so that they may benefit from an opinion other than your own. You should never expect anything from others that you yourself are not willing to give.

The days of educational segregation need to come to an end. It is time that we start sharing and learning with people who may not directly align with our current beliefs. There is a time and place for structure but I believe many of us have taken it too far and lean on it to hard. We must embrace the organic and tangential nature of learning so that both educators and students can continue to grow. No matter if they are in a Dojo, Juku, public school, language class or where ever else learning may occur, it is time to share. So stop hiding behind your dogma and start learning so that you may support your students in following in a similar path.

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