Monday, April 25, 2016

The Jeet Kune Do of Learning, Part 1

As a kid I grew up watching the old kung-fu films with Bruce Lee on our independent television station on Saturday afternoons. My older brother prefered the old John Wayne westerns, which I enjoyed as well, but when the time of year came around for the horribly dubbed kung-fu flicks came on I was glued to the television. I have always admired Bruce Lee and as I grew up I have slowly come across his training philosophies he used in Jeet Kune Do. As a teacher, Bruce Lee was the epitome of teachers - he was a lifelong learner and a patient teacher all in one. Lee and his seven training philosophies are an integral part of my teaching style and should be added to every educator’s development as well.

Bruce Lee Training Philosophy Concept #1 SEEK THE TRUTH

Lee was a master at this and used it as he sought to find his own style and philosophies eventually creating his own approach to martial arts. Lee Don’t didn’t just rely on what his instructor or other martial artists experts told him was the best way, he did his own homework  and ended up creating an enduring legacy and philosophy.

As with any educational endeavour it is up to us as teachers to help our students, as well as ourselves, to learn to seek our own learning. Great teachers have this innate ability to point their students in the direction they want they to go, but to let the students find exactly what it is they are to learn. This runs counter to many districts’ policies and some teachers may even push back against this approach, but in the end we can only offer our students the opportunity to learn for themselves.

Bruce Lee Training Philosophy Concept #2 BECOME AWARE OF THE TRUTH

“Know what you’re looking for and don’t be in denial when you discover it,” said Bruce Lee in his book the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Lee was famous for always studying everything he could on all forms of martial arts - Western, Indian, Filipino, and Eastern styles - in order to take what he say as being efficient and practical. This approach was at times done against the traditions of his homeland’s martial arts masters, yet in the end the ability to see through the lies open Lee up to possibilities that would not have been possible with the traditional approaches.

Education is the same way with its almost dogmatic practitioners who do what has always been done or what has always worked. The tried and true is now on conflict with the new approaches (data driven instruction, differentiated instruction, technological additions, etc) and with it the change in the pedagogy involved. The students have changed in the respect to the way they use technology and with it must change the way education looks and uses technology to stay relevant to the students. Keith Hughes, of Hip Hughes History on Youtube, said that, “If your job is to disseminate information, you’ve been replaced by Google and YouTube.”

Bruce Lee Training Philosophy Concept #3 PERCEIVE THE TRUTH

Bruce Lee believed that perception is everything and that it is up to the individual to gather as many facts as possible. This concept is not solely Bruce Lee’s doing, but one of the many different philosophies he read and studied during his life. To gather the facts needed to make a perception real is to bring one’s thoughts in line with nature. From this place a true master can truly understand what is real and what is not.

In education we deal with perceptions all the time - whether it is about a coworker, parent, student - we live and work in the realm of perceptions. We face the ideas of others that seem to think that teachers are only in the job to have summers off and that we go home right after our students do, but the reality  of it is that we spend way more time, effort, and our own monies to create the positive perceptions needed in our classrooms. Even with our own students we are in a constant battle with perceptions as we are dealing the with unique psyche of our adolescent charges.

As like Lee stated it us up to us as individual teachers to seek our own truths that allow us to ground ourselves in the realities we face. Our students are also unique individuals that we must help guide towards developing their own truths regardless of the conditions, or perceptions, they live in. As educators it is part of the lifelong learning cycle that we learn to adapt to our perceptions as well as the realities we and our students face.

Next week I will do part two of this series as I cover Bruce Lee’s last four training concepts as they relate to education.