The teaching process is a balance between monologue and dialogue. A monologue by the teacher to regurgitate the basics in order to lay a foundation for the students to learn what they need to learn, and a dialogue for the students to fill in the gaps with respect to how they interpreted that monologue.
Given that everyone learns differently, no proper class, lesson, or program is complete without an on-going dialogue. Questions need to be asked and teachers need to have the capacity to address them accordingly. I think we’ve all been in that class where the instructor seemed to be teaching from his/her cookie-cutter curriculum and wasn’t able to elaborate well enough on students’ questions. In comparison to the worst, some of the best teachers I’ve ever had throughout school were the ones who not only took that extra time, but also encouraged an open dialogue in order to (in some adaptive way) reinforce knowledge in each individual student.
Let’s take this example and apply it to physical training, or coaching. It’s really no different. People seek out a coach either out of self-motivation or some physical necessity to learn and change. The job is to teach them, guide them, and motivate them to a more optimal level of functioning.
Teaching and Guidance
“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his on methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
When methods are based on sound, proven principles, there often isn’t anything ground-breaking or novel about it. All our knowledge stems from the great minds and ideas that came before us. The best in the industry understand the principles of physical training and respect how they were developed and implemented. Further, they are able to communicate it to each client and athlete and apply it to their individual context in order to get them better. But a huge part of their continued growth is the progressive dialogue that accompanies learning. The dialogue, if any, is usually lacking in substance when “flashy”, quick fix methods are the driving force behind a program. It’s not enough when the coach simply yells orders at the front of a packed class and strictly maintains a monologue. Everyone will move differently and learn movement differently and the coach must know how to accommodate this. Regurgitation of one method is not teaching, it’s falling victim to bias.
An individual needs to be both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated for them to adhere to training. Extrinsic motivation is important, as it can be a catalyst for action. Things like group settings, role models, and a desire to be accepted are examples. However, these things can come and go and their meaning on a personal level to the athlete or client changes as they grow and change. Intrinsic motivation relates to the deeper benefits and overall experience of doing something for you, free from burdens of expectation from external variables. This is usually constant. As a coach, this is why taking the time to get to know someone past a face and name is important; motivation is an individually-dependent variable. Personality, behavior, and background will reveal more about what drives someone, which requires on-going dialogue and is tough to get in large group/class settings due to conformity, shyness, discomfort, etc.
When the goal is progress and change, there must be open dialogue between coach and athlete/client/member. The time, effort, and commitment are big, but so are the rewards. Whether you’re a coach or getting coached, you only get out what you put in.