As a teacher I want each student to succeed, yet it is easy to hold up an imaginary standard and judge my students. Having a standard is not a bad thing, but it can become a detriment when I hold all students to the same standard. This gets exasperated as some students will excel and ‘reach’ that standard and others will develop at their own speed.

I start our students with with basic kicking forms, which are really long kicking combinations our students memorize. Most of our students excel at memorizing these combinations. But Taekwondo also has a series of traditional forms (Taegeuk Poomsae) which are more complex. I have some students who do a great job with our kicking forms and then are very challenged by the traditional forms. While the kicking forms are tied to students belt progression, I teach the traditional forms based on students ability to learn them. Once students reach a certain point in our curriculum I start teaching them the traditional forms and they set the pace of their learning.

If I held all students to an imaginary ‘standard’ with the traditional forms, it would take some students a very long time to progress. It would hamper a student’s growth, rather than help them. It would become an unrealistic expectation that ends up discouraging students.

As a teacher, I desire to help students reach their individual potential as a Taekwondo athlete, but that is really only one piece of their development. My true goal is to help each student learn skills that transcend their Taekwondo. I want students to develop their teamwork and cooperation by working with partners. I want them to develop their focus and self control while learning complex skills and concepts, then being able reproduce them. I want them to gain a hunger for learning more, by realizing that their real goal is not the belt around their waist, but rather it is improving their technique and desiring to learn more.

If I drive towards an artificial perfectionism, I will squash these goals. In trying to ‘help’ my students achieve I will hinder their ability to grow. So ultimately I want students to work to make themselves better, or good, but they don’t need to work towards being perfect.