I recently had the opportunity to read one of Lawrence A. Kane’s books entitled, “Martial Arts Instruction: Applying Educational Theory and Communication Techniques in the Dojo” and found it to be a fantastic book for anyone involved in the teaching of students and not just those involved in the martial arts. This book is a fantastic source for reference material concerning the art of teaching, and yes, I do feel that teaching is an art form.
The approach Lawrence takes in this book is simple, yet loaded with an abundance of information that shows you various methods that you can easily incorporate into your own particular style of teaching regardless of what the particular subject is. I can almost guarantee you that if you purchase this book and study it for a few weeks, and then start applying the information that you have learned, that you will see a notable improvement in your own teaching ability, while at the same time see a marked improvement in your students.
When I first read this book, I identified with a lot of the mistakes that Lawrence mentioned concerning my own teaching style especially when I first started teaching students a little over 20 years ago. Although it is imperative that we as individuals make our own mistakes, it is not that easy or desirable to make mistakes when you are responsible for the development of another individual. Although Lawrence’s focus is on teaching the martial arts, a lot of what he tells you could also be used when teaching your own children. However, you would have to modify your teaching method a bit.
The following is a brief review of each of the six chapters in this book and what there main focus is on.
Chapter One: Understanding Learning Style Differences
In this chapter, Lawrence delves into the different types of personalities that an instructor will undoubtedly find in his students, as well as, how to tailor your teaching style to best suit each individual personality type. He also delves into the use of the five senses in order to enhance your teaching ability so that your students not only retain more information, but also enjoy the lessons being taught.
The five senses are; seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, and smelling. Although it isn’t practical to employ the use of all five in every lesson plan, you should try and devise a few that you could use once every month or so. I used a similar approach once teaching a group of law enforcement officers and the response I received was very encouraging. It works so use it.
Chapter Two: Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Tool to Understand Student Predilections
This particular chapter is quite complex, yet Lawrence makes is all seem rather simple with his easy to understand explanation of the various personality types and how they are best suited to learn and retain information. In this section, Lawrence supplies you with some very good resource material to have your own personality tested in order to determine what type of personality you have and what method of teaching is more conducive to your ability to learn.
Chapter 3: Applications of the Six Teaching Styles to Martial Arts
The six teaching styles discussed in this section are; modeling, lecturing, cooperative performance, independent performance, knowledge capture, and role reversal.
Lawrence describes in detail each one of these teaching styles and provides good examples of when to teach that particular method and how to apply it to the teaching of the martial arts.
Chapter 4: Fostering a Positive Learning Environment
In my humble opinion there is one section in this chapter that perhaps says it all when it comes to the ability to teach another person, and that is the attitude of the teacher.
This was the single most important thing that jumped out at me when I read this book. Although there is tons of useful information provided within the pages of this book, none of it is going to be worth the proverbial hill of beans without the proper attitude being displayed by the teacher.
Etiquette or respect for oneself and others is so vitally important not only to the learning environment, but also the living environment where we have to co-exist with so many different people from a vast array of backgrounds and cultures.
Another great subject that Lawrence brings up in this section is the importance of a solid emotional and physical environment in which to teach your students. The one undeniable single factor that is prevalent in everything that Lawrence discusses is the teacher. He or she is the one who will make or break a class and/or the students in it. You can have the most exciting subject and something that you are hugely passionate about become the most boring and painful experience if the teacher is horrible. Or you can take the most boring subject and make it interesting if the teacher is passionate and knowledgeable about how to get his/her information across to the students.
Along with a lot more information on the role of the teacher, Lawrence also spends some time going over some very solid information on how to find the martial art and martial arts school that is best suited for you.
Chapter 5: Developing and Implementing Lesson Plans for the Dojo
This section covers not only how to devise, refine and implement a lesson plan, but also how to adapt when the plan you have is not working. It also covers a lot of really solid information on the martial arts itself and the various nuances that are prevalent within it.
Lawrence also has a lot of really solid useful information concerning the martial arts and their use in a self-defense situation. He gives a couple of really good examples from his own personal experience that shows what may be a preferable way to handle a situation rather than resorting to physical means. Although one must always keep in mind that no two situations are going to be identical and what may work well in one situation may not work well in another.
Chapter 6: Conclusion/Stages of Teaching
This section is rather brief as I am sure the author intended and merely goes over that which he has discussed in the previous chapters. However, there are some very good tidbits of information included here and in the next 40+ pages.
This book, like all of Lawrence’s books, is filled with solid useful information concerning whatever subject he has written about. There is much that can be learned from them and I highly recommend that you purchase them and study the information contained in each one of his books.
Shawn is a high ranking black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. He is also the author of Axe Kick the third volume in the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series of martial arts books, and is currently working on several additional marital arts and self-defense books, which are due to be released in late 2007 or early 2008.
Lawrence can be reached via his publisher’s web site at: YMAA