By day I am an organizational development consultant for a large healthcare system. That means that among other things, I practice the art and science of adult learning. Meanwhile as I advance in my taekwondo career I am asked to help with warm-up exercises, teaching forms, and coaching lower ranking belts. At times my two worlds of facilitation and instruction collide. I’ve learned that asking seven-year-olds about the finer points of blocking usually results in blank stares. I do however find that threatening my professional adult learners with push-ups fills me with sadistic glee.
So if I followed the rules of adult learning what would a taekwondo class look like?
Opening – Icebreaker and Introductions
After bowing to the flags and a quick meditation each student introduces himself or herself and state one thing they’d like to get out of today’s class. I tell some self-deprecating joke and a little bit about my background and the overall purpose of today’s class. I assure the one student grumbling that she’s just there because her mom made her come that she too will get something out of the class and ask her to approach it with an open mind. The other students nod sanctimoniously and are secretly relieved that I didn’t single them out. After five reminders and passing the sign-in sheet around twice all students are accounted for.
I show a funny video on all the silly (and incorrect) ways people try to do push-ups. The students partner up and discuss for 2 minutes all the mistakes they saw in the video that they’ve seen in previous classes. I capture the information on a flip chart. After reluctance and a joke on my part that if an introvert like myself can get up and talk anyone can a student timidly offers to demonstrate the proper way to do a push-up. I lay on the praise as if he had cured cancer.
Kicks and Strikes
We discuss the mechanics of a front snap kick. Students are put into teams to discuss the pros and cons of using front snap kick in sparring and list them on a flip chart.
The teams then choreograph a 2 minute sparring sequence using all kicks, strikes, and blocks learned up to this point.
Everyone buries their faces in their smartphones and comes back from break 5 minutes later than I asked them to.
Half the class performs their current form. The other half does a SWOT analysis of the group’s performance and coaches them using the GROW model. Are you satisfied with your knife-hand strike? What have you tried so far? So in a perfect world with no restrictions how would you execute that strike? Students will set a SMART goal regarding what they’d like to see in their future form performance. Switch roles.
I giddily promise a follow-up email that I don’t send. Everyone is enthusiastic until the following day when they revert to the passive routine of their busy lives and don’t make any changes based on what they learned. Their moms continue to make them go to class. I buy more flip chart paper.