Fit to teach? (2)

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To teach English in a UK school, you need:

  1. English GCSE

  2. Literature A-level

  3. Literature BA degree

  4. English PGCE

How many years will it take to acquire these qualifications? 18 years. At the end of the university course, The Newly Qualified Teacher is awarded probationary status, subject to on the job evaluation.
They are still not considered to be a fully-trained and experienced teacher...

Standards are necessary

To drive a car, many lessons are required... but are you now fit to teach others how to drive? Are you now also a driving instructor? Can you speak fluent Spanish after a year of lessons? 
Can you teach Spanish?
Equivalent standards exist in every facet of society: engineer, plumber, joiner, mechanic, nurse, doctor, chef, lawyer, accountant, scuba diver, piano teacher...
The list of occupations/hobbies/services/pursuits requiring a professional standard of competence from their instructor/facilitator is virtually endless.

Not teaching

Examples where no active teaching is taking place:

  1. Spotting
    - students are shown what a mistake looks like
    - they work with other students and look for that mistake


  2. Helping (learning-by-helping)
    - a teaching assistant might assist in preparing the room or cleaning up afterwards
    - they may greet new starters
    - they may undertake responsibilities in class that exceed those of the average student

  3. Leading
    - a more experienced student performs exercises in front of other students and the junior students follow along
    - this involves simply copying/imitating

Teacher training in our school

There are a number of stages to work through:

1) Qigong & tai chi

  1. Teaching assistant

  2. Assistant teacher

  3. Qigong & tai chi teacher

2) Martial

  1. Assistant instructor (tai chi)

  2. Tai chi instructor

  3. Kung fu instructor (chin na, shuai jiao & tai chi chuan)

How to gauge your tai chi teacher...

Quite a lot of people claim to 'know' tai chi. Typically they mean 'tai chi for health'... Yet, if you ask them a few simple questions, they almost always flounder.
When faced with a potential charlatan, most people ask all the wrong questions: teacher, style etc. Who cares? This is not the root of tai chi. Focus on the essentials.

10 questions to ask a tai chi teacher

Try asking these 10 metacognition questions:

1. Which treatise(s) would you consider to be The Tai Chi Classics? Which author is most accessible to you? And which parts do you struggle to put into your practice?

2. What role does 'shen' play in tai chi?

3. Explain the significance of 'folding'.

4. The name of the art refers to the 'yin/yang' diagram... So, how does tai chi use yin/yang?

5. Illustrate the difference between 'jing' and 'li'. What bearing does this have on 'peng'?

6. What does the expression 'invest in loss' refer to?

7. Explain the difference between the first 4 powers and the second 4 powers.

8. Which of the Taoist Classics do you find most relevant/pertinent to tai chi? And why?

9. What is 'mutual arising'?

10. How does '4 ounces of pressure' operate in practice? What are the active/passive manifestations? And how do they differ?

If a tai chi teacher cannot answer every question comprehensively - verbally & physically - they are not skilled enough to be an instructor. Look for somebody who can provide good answers.

Most people are on a path with a dead end. They train ten years and they end up with nothing.

(Paul Gale)

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Page created 7 April 1995
Last updated 23 October 2023