How do you teach something that is different from our own culture? Something that maybe goes in the complete opposite direction of how people think here in the west? It’s a tough question for teachers as it’s hard to educate someone in something new and unfamiliar. Sometimes it’s like teaching someone to become familiar with a new taste or a new kind of music. I am thinking about certain flavors and food that children often must learn to appreciate and somtimes won’t really like to eat until they become young adults.

Sometimes, you need to teach students slowly to appreciate or understand something. This means repetition of movements, and also a constant letting the student feel your touch first hand. On an intellectual level, it’s harder. It’s harder because many people have allready made up their minds and even they believe that they are open-minded, they still might have a very hard time to change their view. They need time and you need to see teaching as an ongoing process. It’s not a question of finding a special word that can create a sudden enlightenment. Your students need time, and you must permit yourself to take time as well.

As a teacher, you need to be sensitive and act with precaution (two things that sadly are not my own virtues). You can’t really force someone to take his own thinking into a whole new direction. And to make it even more the complex, you should understand that no one is the same and that people have very different values and different ways to take in what you say, digest it and comprehend.

You can:

  • Give examples.
  • Make your examples come alive as stories or tell them as anecdotes.
  • Bring in humor, jokes and make it funny.
  • Try to say the same thing in different ways.
  • Approach a problem in different ways.

You should not:

  • Make things abstract.
  • Mystify or make something more complicated than it is.
  • Use chinese terms without explaining them with western words in a simple and practical manner.
  • Take yourself and your position a a teacher too serious.
  • Force your students to learn faster than they can.
  • Demand your students to understand anything.
  • Make your class not fun to attend.

If you can not make a student get something you can never blame that person. You have either made a lousy job as a teacher, or that person is not ready to understand it yet. Or maybe tai chi is just not for him or her. But still, this is not for you to decide. You are there for your students, and they are not there for your sake. Always keep this in mind.