What it means to be a good student?
I want to talk about what it means to be a good student.
I am a teacher and a student. Most of you may know me well as a teacher, and I’d like to share my perspective on being a student. These thoughts apply to tango and many other areas of life:
- As a student, I expect my teacher to continue studying and to constantly improve. As a student, I can be in the same class with one of my teachers, who have been dancing and teaching for decades before me, without coming to the conclusion that I am at the same level. On the contrary, I appreciate the opportunity to learn in the same classes with my teachers and to have the same experience beside my teachers.
- As a student, I choose to learn from the best teachers and I highly value their life of dedication to the art. If I undervalue my teachers, I undervalue myself. If my teachers are not the best, why would I want to learn from them in the first place?
- I support my teachers as much as my means allow. I know that everything I give to my teachers will come back to me in some form. I fully participate in the art and am not satisfied with being a mere witness or someone who just wants to have “fun”.
- I support my teachers with my physical presence in classes, and by following their advice and working on my own to become better. I participate because I know that the support and attention I give is what I will receive. If I am not willing to give anything of myself, then I will get nothing.
- I do not judge my teachers based on anything other than their art. The rest is not my business. I go to class to learn. It would be a waste of time and energy to pay attention to other matters outside of learning the art.
- I respect my teachers in the same way I respect my friends and relatives, because they are as important to me as my friends and relatives. I feel that when I display this level of respect that my teachers reciprocate.
- I have confidence in my teachers. I can only learn from those that I have 100% confidence in, and it doesn’t take me long to figure out if I am improving or not. For this reason, I listen to my teachers and follow their advice.
- When I go to classes, I recognize that there are always negative and positive elements. I choose to focus on the positive ones. I know that focusing on the positive aspects is the most efficient use of my energy, while focusing on the negative aspects and complaining or refusing to cooperate during a class is a waste of everyone’s time. If I have suggestions for improvements to a class, I make time to talk to my teacher in private or write an e-mail.
- I do not blame my teachers for my failures – those are all on me. Also, I recognize that my achievements are only possible with their help and I am humbled by their willingness to share the art with me.
- I do not expect an overnight miracle or to have an epiphany in class that will all of a sudden make me great. I know that learning requires every day, consistent and patient construction work.
- I challenge my teachers to be better in their art and as teachers by imposing on myself to get better. When I get better, that challenges my teachers to continue to improve too.
- I share an immense love for this art with my teachers. This love manifests in continually deepening my understanding and knowledge of the art.
I feel very lucky that I have many students that share these thoughts. They inspire me and challenge me to become better every day.
My profession is the practice and teaching of an art. Some people do not appreciate the importance of art in their lives. Sometimes I am able to teach them to realize how important art in his or her life is. Other times I do not succeed in this. But when I succeed, or when the student knows already that life, True Life, is impossible without art and creativity, they never underestimate the time and passion that I give to them.
I am looking forward to seeing you and dancing with you soon,