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Teaching and learning

I've been playing Go for a couple of years now and thought it would be fun to write a blog about my experiences playing, studying and teaching. I normally blog over at Keith Lard's Diary, but Go writing would not be of interest to most of my readers, and conversely Go fans would probably not want to read about all the other stuff in my life which has nothing to do with the game.

One of the nice things about Go is that even players of a fairly low level (I'm currently 16k on KGS, 17k on DGS) can teach beginners and weaker players - it's one of the best ways to really reinforce your own knowledge and fill in any gaps. On the other hand, being a good player doesn't automatically make you a good teacher - it's a skill in itself.

I have been teaching my mother, who is a remarkably apt student, and is already quite strong enough to beat beginners. But my actual teaching activities have been confined to playing a few small-board games with her on DGS, and occasionally sitting down with her over the board to look at things like ladders and basic fuseki ideas. It can be a frustrating experience teaching, as it is fun seeing people catch on to new ideas, and I always want to go far too fast and jump on to the next thing before the first is fully absorbed.

Dieter Verhofstadt has written a good essay on Sensei's Library: Teaching Experiences. Dieter says:

From an interview with Sting: "Yes I've been a teacher for a while, but I've realized that there is no such thing as teaching. There is only learning. The only job a teacher must do is radiate his love for the subject."

I found this a very inspiring quotation and it made me resolve not to push my student further or faster than she wants to go, but instead just to let her enjoy herself and to radiate my own love for the game.

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