The first step to artful teaching is tuning in to the essence of the student. It is critical that we appreciate each individual’s unique learning style and natural voice, and take these into account when instructing them. By allowing students to express themselves through their learning process and what they learn, we not only expand their capabilities but also their interest in forging ahead. Teachers have a very fine line to walk in preserving in their students a balance between passion and discipline, analysis and internalization of fact and technique. This balancing act demands that they neither offer false compliments nor dismiss seemingly wayward ideas—but rather prompt probing discussions of students’ ideas and methods and coach them in a manner that is in keeping with who they are. A sensitive, tailored teaching strategy accompanied by a clearly expressed expectation of achievement can make the difference between helping students’ minds carve themselves into maturity and stripping them of this ability as well as their joy. Teachers who position themselves more as guides to development than as omniscient authorities end up promoting in pupils a lifelong hunger for absorbing, processing, and applying knowledge effectively.
In Josh’s Words:
When I made a bad move, Bruce asked me what my idea was and then helped me discover how I could have approached the decision-making process differently. Much of the time in our lessons was spent in silence, with us both thinking. Bruce did not want to feed me information, but to help my mind carve itself into maturity… The most important factor in these first months of study was that Bruce nurtured my love for chess, and he never let technical material smother my innate feeling for the game.
One of the most critical factors in the transition to becoming a conscious high performer is the degree to which your relationship to your pursuit stays in harmony with your unique disposition. There will inevitably be times when we need to try new ideas, release our current knowledge to take in new information – but it is critical to integrate this new information in a manner that does not violate who we are.
Further reading: Chapter 1: Innocent Moves, Chapter 8: Breaking Stallions, pp 45-47, 69-70, 96-100
From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.