26 Oct Learning Is NOT Empowering!
After an engaging conversation I had with a friend who is aspiring to be a self defense instructor, I wanted to post a quick blog about a particular topic often used these days. “Empowerment.” As I cruise thru social media and other blogs I see posts about people attending a course or a conference and walking out of it feeling empowered; I always ask myself why they feel that way.
This statement might tick a few people off but it needs to be said….”LEARNING IS NOT EMPOWERING!” The idea of Learning is simply to go from the unknown to the aware. This is where a student receives information that they were unfamiliar with and begin to process that information. Along the way they ask questions, make observations, take notes, and start tallying up the mistakes (in a good way!). Learning is defined as “the acquisition of knowledge.” Key in on the word “acquisition” because that simply means to collect.
When we talk about empowerment we aren’t referring to the acquisition on knowledge but the fuctionalization and application of that knowledge or skill. In lament terms I ask, “Who cares if you KNOW something if you can’t DO it?!” By that question we should be inspired to take our new found knowledge and put it thru the paces in order to reach some level of empowerment. What does that mean you ask?
I break the process down in 4 stages: Learning, Practice, Development, and Functionalize. Each stage has a very specific process and approach that we can discuss at a later date…but know that Empowerment comes in the Functionalize stage and not in the Learning stage. So before we say that we are empowered by learning any given skill, we should ask ourselves if we can truly apply that skill. Here is an example: If I teach someone a edged weapon disarm and send them on their way home, and they get taken by knife point in the parking lot 5 minutes later….can they actually use that disarm competently? Most likely the answer is no, and that is perfectly fine! That person still needs to practice, develop and functionalize that disarm before they can say they are empowered by it. Without having gone thru those stages the empowerment they feel is a false empowerment.
As instructors, teachers, mentors our sole purpose it to take our students thru all of 4 Stages and guide them the entire way. In the nearly 20 years of teaching/instructing I have learned that to take a student and walk the journey with them from learning to empowering can be challenging at times, but beyond gratifying when you see the end result. We as instructors need to take that responsibility to be honest about the content we give our students. And as students we need to be committed to the journey of empowerment and the challenges it brings.
Be Safe, Be Well