Friday, March 05, 2010

If it ain't broke...

If it ain't broke... then what do you do with it?
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We've all heard the old axiom, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," suggesting that we shouldn't make un-needed modifications to a system that is serving its purpose sufficiently.  Well, I don't particularly subscribe to that line of thinking.  I prefer a variation that I think I remember hearing from Tom Peters:
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If it ain't broke
you'd better break it and rebuild it better
before your enemy has a chance to break it!" 
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At my dojo, we are the inheritors of some pretty darn good methods for teaching aikido and judo.  Methods that stretch back more than a century, retaining and preserving the best of the old, while occasionally incorporating the best judgements of masters, each of whom had more than half a century of experience.  These days we really don't have to think too much about how we teach these things - if you mostly teach like your teacher taught, then history suggests your students will generally have pretty good outcomes.
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But, having said that, I am still in a constant process of tearing my syllabus and teaching methods down and re-building them to see if I could do better.  This is generally a private exercise for me - I've found that it doesn't do much good to inject all that chaos into my students' lives.  I try to reserve any changes that I want to make to my syllabus to occur right at the beginning of each year so that my students don't feel like the ground is always shifting under their feet.

But I've found that it is really beneficial for me as a teacher to constantly review the hows, whys, and what-if's of our syllabi.  How we arrange and present the material, why we choose to do it that way, and what if it were arranged and presented differently.
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Because... if you don't break it and re-build it better, your enemy might break it first!
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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