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Author Topic: What makes a master teacher?  (Read 605 times)
GreenEyes26
Mind Workers
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« on: May 13, 2011, 10:01:43 AM »

I wanted to start this topic based off of the "Methods of Instruction" thread:

What qualities make a teacher a master? What does it take to become one? How do you spot a teacher who you believe gives quality instruction? Finally, how long do you think it takes a dancer to become a master teacher?

I ask the last question in particular because I think it takes a long time to become an excellent/master dance instructor. I also have a bias against young teachers...which is probably not a good thing. I realize that every teacher must begin somewhere and at sometime, but I just don't trust them to know enough.

What are your thoughts and opinions on the above questions?
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"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
elisedance
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ee


« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2011, 01:33:35 PM »

I wanted to start this topic based off of the "Methods of Instruction" thread:

What qualities make a teacher a master? What does it take to become one? How do you spot a teacher who you believe gives quality instruction? Finally, how long do you think it takes a dancer to become a master teacher?

I ask the last question in particular because I think it takes a long time to become an excellent/master dance instructor. I also have a bias against young teachers...which is probably not a good thing. I realize that every teacher must begin somewhere and at sometime, but I just don't trust them to know enough.

What are your thoughts and opinions on the above questions?

Nice question - my experience is that there is a real, but only loose, connection between knowledge and teaching effectiveness.  You can have people that excell in any either area but fail in in the other.  The best teachers (in dancing or anything else) know what they know and are able to pass it on in a manner that suits the specific student.  However, it is equally important that they have humilty: that is know they still have a lot to learn and also their own limitations - when they need to send the student elsewhere. 
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phoenix13
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2013, 08:49:43 AM »

I agree, ee.  I think that teaching is a skill completely separate from the discipline in which it's applied.

So, for an example unrelated to dance, my Dad was a teacher in a technical field until he retired.  He's been a minister/pastor and teacher of things spiritual since long before I was born. And now he teaches sign language, as a hobby.  The underlying thread is teaching, but he has applied that skill in many different ways throughout his life.

I think that becoming a master teacher requires one have, not just technical prowess in whatever field, but also teaching ability and experience.  

Add teaching skill to depth of knowledge in a field and you have a master teacher ... after twenty years.  Just kidding!  I don't necessarily think that you have to be old to be a great teacher, but I have rarely seen young people that I would characterize as "master" teachers -- perhaps because all of the above also needs to be tempered with wisdom.

A pretty tall order.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 09:12:15 AM by phoenix13 » Logged

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elisedance
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2013, 09:22:13 AM »

I think that becoming a master teacher requires one have, not just technical prowess in whatever field, but also teaching ability and experience. 

So dance came out of thin air Tongue Smiley

Real master teachers are also creators - they figure out for themselves (sometimes from myriad of sources) the best way to do something AND the best way to teach it Wink
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
phoenix13
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2013, 09:30:29 AM »

I dunno about the figuring out for themselves part ...  Well yeah. They do.  But they also have to have the wisdom to know when not to try to reinvent the wheel, but to follow in the tradition of master teachers before them instead.
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elisedance
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2013, 04:42:31 PM »

I dunno about the figuring out for themselves part ...  Well yeah. They do.  But they also have to have the wisdom to know when not to try to reinvent the wheel, but to follow in the tradition of master teachers before them instead.
yes - but even then they figure it out themselves - that's the only way to get something 'into context'; you can't blindly accept anything (IMO).
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
elisedance
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ee


« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2013, 04:43:23 PM »

to clarify, what I mean by 'figure it out' is to work through its logic.  You have to do that before you can accept something as a good idea.

Same goes for any art and any master.
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
phoenix13
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2013, 08:02:09 PM »

Agreed.  I think it's important for anyone who wants to teach to take the time to understand the concepts down to their component parts.  I think that's the only way to be able to break things down for students and teach it in multiple ways.

That's why I think it's important for dance students to be very clear about what they want.  Big name dancers may or may not have the ability to break things down for their students.
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