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Until It Bothers You

At class, I recently mentioned that a student will not really improve until it bothers him. I wanted to explain this.

Students come to class day after day, year after year. As instructors, we try our best to teach and inspire the students, and they do generally learn.

However, I do not believe that any student can become exceptional simply by going to class and learning. At some point, the student must want to learn and improve himself. It has to become a burning desire, almost an obsession, something that will wake him up at nights thinking... "how should I do that technique?" Sometimes his body will twitch and move by itself.

The instructor can set the table but it is up to the student to consume and digest the meal.

I have to admit that I am a pretty obsessive person. When I want something, I will pretty much go crazy until I get it. I will study the subject, practice, examine my progress, study the subject more, practice more, and keep working at it, almost to the exclusion of all other things. I attack problems. Personality-wise, I am a pretty passive person. I avoid conflict. But when it comes to learning and improving, I am aggressive. In school, I attacked tests.

At class, I am always teaching. In a way, the students are passive recipients of what I teach. They come to class and I teach what I think they need to learn.

But when a student reaches a certain level, he knows what he needs to learn... because he is working on it and it bothers him. At that point, he will come to class with questions. I can see that he has taken control and is working on himself. He is not just a passive recipient of what I might chose to teach. Such a student really stands out.

Until then, I will teach and try to inspire the students. I am presenting a certain curriculum the best that I can. But I am waiting for the students to wake up and really want to learn... to become bothered and obsessed, and to take an active role in their own improvement. Then I can really teach!


Charles C. Goodin