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#293599 - 10/14/06 09:37 PM Teacher vs. Instructor
senseihonor Offline
Member

Registered: 09/09/06
Posts: 62
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Hello -

Someone this week commented on how one of the sensei's within our organization was an "instructor", not a "teacher". "Instructor", in this case, was meant to be less favorable than "teacher".

While I know which sensei's have been great (and not so great) for me, I don't know if I could make the distinction between instructor and teacher.

Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on how, or why there is a difference?

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#293600 - 10/15/06 01:49 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: senseihonor]
szorn Offline
Member

Registered: 08/18/03
Posts: 88
Loc: USA
Quote:

Hello -

Someone this week commented on how one of the sensei's within our organization was an "instructor", not a "teacher". "Instructor", in this case, was meant to be less favorable than "teacher".

While I know which sensei's have been great (and not so great) for me, I don't know if I could make the distinction between instructor and teacher.

Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on how, or why there is a difference?




Actually the definitions vary from person to person but here is what the terms mean to me-

Instructor- is generally someone who is able to stand in front of a group and pass on knowledge to them. Usually this is done in a somewhat scripted manner, similar to actually reading from a curriculum. While they might be good at passing on this information it doesn't mean they have a true understanding of what is is they are passing on or why they are passing it they way that they are. It's the common "this is how I was taught to do it, so it's how I will pass it on" idea, generally with no questions asked.

Teacher- is someone who not only knows the material but understands the hows and whys behind it. They don't just present the material like reading from a script, they actually modify their presentations to address different learning styles, to engage every student. They never pass on material without first knowing why it's being passed on- for art, for tradition, for self-defense, etc.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Teacher and an Instructor is to see how they respond to various questions. Do they reply in a texbook-like fashion, with no thought (Instructor) or do they reply in a way that helps the student relate to the answer (Teacher)? In other words, Instructors just give you the direct answer whereas Teachers tell you the whys behind the answer, they help you understand how the answer pertains to you. In other words, Teachers teach you about the answer and guide you to success. Here is are some common answers that an Instructor might give when asked why a technique is peformed a specific way- "because that's how I learned it", "that's the way it's been done for centuries"
"because I said so", etc. One of the most common signs of an Instructor is when he tells the student- "never question me".


Hope this helps.



Steve Zorn, ICPS

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#293601 - 10/15/06 02:25 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: senseihonor]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Quote:

Sen means literally, "before" or "preceding." Sei is the character that means "life. "The life that came before," then, is a poetic way to denote someone who has walked along the Way before you and who may now show you the path as well.




http://www.furyu.com/archives/issue6/sensei.html

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#293602 - 10/15/06 04:26 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: szorn]
senseihonor Offline
Member

Registered: 09/09/06
Posts: 62
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Quote:


Instructor- is generally someone who is able to stand in front of a group and pass on knowledge to them. Usually this is done in a somewhat scripted manner, similar to actually reading from a curriculum. While they might be good at passing on this information it doesn't mean they have a true understanding of what is is they are passing on or why they are passing it they way that they are. It's the common "this is how I was taught to do it, so it's how I will pass it on" idea, generally with no questions asked.




Hi -

You have described perfectly the sensei who was labelled an "instructor".

If you're looking for more "internal" growth, or the feeling that you are on some kind of path, you're not going to get any kind of direction from this sensei (unless you have come in seeking this, or discover this on your own).

If you're looking for plain vanilla, straight-up techniques, without a greater understanding of "why" (bunkai), this is the sensei for you.

Conversely, there have been many great sensei "teachers" in our organization. They are flexible in their approach, provide a variety of understandings for a technique
and often impart "pearls", some small snippet offered that is greater than a punch, kick, or block. It gives you something to think about, long after you have moved on to a new technique.

Although "sensei" (to me, means very roughly: those in front of you who have travelled the path before you - and this isn't an easy definition for me to articulate), I guess there are distinctions between being a "sensei-instructor" and "sensei-teacher". Does this make sense?

Also, what would it take to move from the realm of "instructor" into the area of "sensei"?

edited to fix quote


Edited by MattJ (10/16/06 02:47 PM)

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#293603 - 10/15/06 08:29 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: senseihonor]
Chen Zen Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 7043
Loc: Ms
To move on from instructor to becoming a teacher not only must you understand the various why and why nots of your art, you must also be able to look beyond your own bias, identify your own strengths and weaknesses as well as others and your particular style. You must also be able to relate the material and yourself to the student.
_________________________
"When I let Go of who I am, I become who I might be."
Lao Tzu

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#293604 - 10/15/06 08:39 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: senseihonor]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Senseihonor:

There was an interesting book "Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching" done fairly recently by a author by the name of Carol Wiley. (believe it was done by Frog Publishing maybe?)

It was a curious book which described the views of an assorted group of martial arts instructors on the topic of instruction. Some presentations within the book were far, far better written than others!

Szorn covered it pretty well. I was unable to get to the Furyu article yet... but given as I was an avid supporter and "lifelong subscriber" of the magazine, I am fairly certain I already enjoyed it at least once before

Given only that choice, an instructor is someone with whom we are not that "close". We do not have a strong connection toward them/their basic approach-ideas of the art that we share. If the two titles were in a pyramid, a teacher is the higher of the two in my view for whatever that might be worth

A teacher is someone who ignites the fires within us... they kept ~the passion~ alive. A brief time, a lifetime, regardless they presented us with doors and the information and helped us through them to the best of their ability(ies). A teacher is always an instructor but not always in the reverse.

They are words, and can be synonymous or have shades of different meanings. What is important, is what YOU attribute to these women & men whose "spark" you choose to follow! If you do not understand, perceive them as being in a mental/emotional space you wish to emulate, to copy, to follow... then find another person a TEACHER whom you are willing to trust.

Being a teacher is about trust .

Jeff

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#293605 - 10/16/06 09:38 AM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: Ronin1966]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
'There is no teacher without a student.' The subtle semantic difference between 'instructor' and 'teacher' implies a relationship; I may value an instructor, but consider a teacher to be precious.

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#293606 - 10/16/06 09:59 AM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: Chen Zen]
senseihonor Offline
Member

Registered: 09/09/06
Posts: 62
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Quote:

You must also be able to relate the material and yourself to the student.




This is an interesting point.

Let's say you have 3 students who are learning the same kata. One learns best by watching, writting it down in their own words and uses this as their best reference. Another learns by understanding the bunkai (application). The third learns best by getting the bare bones down, then honing and refining the kata over time.

The sensei (instructor) let's the 3 students muddle it out themselves. Frustrations are higher than normal. There isn't a great deal of appreciation for how much the students are struggling.

The sensei (teacher) will provide the 3 students with the approach that works best for them. Frustrations are still going to be high since they're learning something new, but perhaps a light will go on quicker for the students led by this sensei. This sensei also understands what the challenges are like for these students and offers some kind of motivator to keep the students focused.

Both types of sensei's have lots to offer, but I would hazard a guess and say that the sensei (teacher) is the one who will have students that stay for the long run, while the sensei (instructor) fills a shorter-term need.

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#293607 - 10/16/06 10:49 AM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: senseihonor]
clmibb Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 1035
Loc: South Texas, US
I never really sat down and thought about the difference between an instructor and teacher. I used them interchangably. I won't now. The word instructor doesn't do my teacher any justice. Thanks for the clarification!

Casey
_________________________
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."- Ronald Reagan


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#293608 - 10/16/06 02:08 PM Re: Teacher vs. Instructor [Re: clmibb]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
senseihonor I'm glad you brought this topic up, as its really gotten me to thinking about the instruction at my school, and my future goals in the club.

I don't really believe there is a difference between instructor and teacher, but rather a difference in the quality of instruction. Learning to teach well, is, I think, more difficult than learning to kick or punch well.

For instance, at my school, anyone red-belt or higher can be expected to "Start Class" at any time. This basically means they must run the class through the standard set of warmups. Very little occurs on the students end as far as new information, but the intensity and motivation of the person can greatly effect the intensity and motivation of the rest of the class.

Out of this group, there are a handful of students (late teen and adult only) who have shown an interest or the potential to become an instructor. These "instructors" can be expected to take over any class, most often the kids classes. The most important qualification in this situation is the ability to keep the students motivated and active. Instructions are often repeated verbatim from their own class, and the amount of learning that occurs is often limited due to the instructors ability to transmit that information and the students ability to absorb it.

Overtime these instructors gain experience and skill in learning to teach their students. Some never learn this or care to, but others eventually learn to identify the problems their students are having, and learn how to best help the student correct it. They are genuinely interested in the welfare of their students, and the students respond to this. You can always identify a good instructor by looking at the student.

Is the student motivated and interested in what they are doing? Do they appear to respect their instructor and listen when he or she is speaking? Is the instructor willing to listen to the questions or concerns of the student, and capable of admitting when they don't have an answer? Do the students even ask questions of the instructor? And to what lengths will the instructor go to to get the information their students need? And do they have a passion for what they do?

Laura

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