Why the best teachers aren’t the strictest preachers

“Teach by example, not by words.”

More to the point of this article though: You never know how good your students are, or how wrong you may be.

Every time I demonstrate a form, I do it slightly differently, and I encourage my students to do the same – to be natural and experiment and go with the feeling and mood of the moment. We’re all on our own learning curve, not least teachers, so we should never set in stone our movements, especially in the early days of teaching or learning.

Every time Michael Jackson did the moonwalk, he did it slightly differently. The copycats do the same thing every time, because that’s all they know – they can’t feel what’s really behind the moves. What they do can look good, because they’ve practised it so much, but it’s not really flexible, it can’t adapt to changing environments and tempos.

So a good teacher never forces his students to copy him. He welcomes it but he doesn’t force it, because in doing so he’s not really helping.

A good teacher should start from a base of the student’s natural tendencies, and take everything the student does naturally as something potentially better than what the teacher knows!

You never know how good your students are. What if an excellent dancer came into your class, and you told him to move his hand 1 inch to the right? What rubbish! He knows how to balance his hand better than you do. It’s not all about experience, it’s also about natural ability to feel your own body, to balance most gracefully.

So any time a teacher tells you to follow a strict pattern, or to copy him strictly every time – you should take everything he says with a pinch of salt.