Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let the student figure it out themselves! - Lessons from Harry Potter

It’s always interesting to find parallels in fiction that match classical karate.

In “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” Harry has to study Potions again (Magical Chemistry Class). He never got along with the former teacher and always used to mess up, but in this installment he had a new, kinder instructor and especially got to use a very old edition of the Potions text, one heavily annotated with notes. The extra notes immediately made him the best student in the class, for following the extra steps and/or changes made the process work correctly.

So you have a school training students in making potions and trained to exactly follow the text, which is hard to do in any case. But following the text doesn’t bring the best results. Yet if you have the extra notes you’re outstanding in potions. Interesting contradiction isn’t it.

The school wants the students trained to a point, but not trained to exactitude, and unless they go through hundreds of test trials to find the best formula, they’re just going through motions. Especially as no one is explaining to them they could find their own passion and do it themselves.

Now let’s step away from fiction, can we find anything like that in the real world?

How about Karate and the principle, it’s up to the students to work out how to learn how an application works.

Exactly the same concept in action.

Not that working something out is a bad idea to really learn a lesson. But it’s just inefficient and may leave most of the students with much more shallow knowledge, when they could be shown strong answers and focus on an entirely different level of training.

In Karate there isn’t one answer. There are instructors that share in depth how things work. On the other hand there are instructors that let the student figure it out themselves.

Which is the better answer?

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