If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
What does it mean to be a teacher? Is it a position or a description? If you have the title of teacher does it mean you are one or do you become one through your actions? Can I say I’m a teacher or do people call me this?
In the martial arts people have made the title of ‘Sifu’ or ‘Sensei’ to be greater than ‘student’ yet this is not the case. These are supposed to be terms of endearment like mother or father. The parents are not more important than the child yet they are important for care and protection of the child. In the same way, what is a parent if they never had someone to care for. It is a relationship dependant on the other.
In Kungfu all the titles are based on the family structure (grandfather, father, big sister, uncle) since you would only teach those you trusted, loved and cared for. Do you only learn from the parent? Absolutely not! In fact, it is thought that peers have a greater influence on you than your primary caregivers. I use the word ‘teach’ here with caution since I know it conjures up THE teacher at the head of a class when I mean it more like the parent guiding the child. As an anthropologist we learn that culture, beliefs, ideas etc. are transmitted from one to another over time. This is done through traditions, activities, language and much more, so teaching is happening constantly even without intent.
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
― Albert Einstein
You only truly learn through teaching another. I often say do it, watch it and teach it since without all three you can’t understand it. If you wish to be Kungfu then you must BE Kungfu. Unconsciously, you teach yourself and others with every action you make. It is important that I am clear here. You learn from each other and teach each other yet the type of teacher you are depends on what you transmit. At the same time, take the time to show and help each other since it creates a responsibility for the knowledge and challenges how much you really know what you know.
Lastly, remove from your vocabulary « I should know this », which often comes from the embarrassment of not knowing the answer to a question posed to you. This is ego. Instead say « that is a good question, let’s discover the answer together ». This teaches it is fine not to know and transmits the excitement to learn. There is not one teacher in the club, there are many. While the responsibility of your growth falls on me the support and love is shared.
Be kind to each other!