Every instructor will run into this student at some part in their career, it is only a question of when and how often. It’s unfortunate, but it is also nothing more than triage in a classroom.
Don’t be that guy
An unteachable student is someone who is unable to make changes, improve or adapt due to mental obstacles. Examples of these obstacles are ego, dogma and my favorite ignorance. Ego is the most common I see in our classes and one of the easier ones to remedy. The student has to look into the mirror and ask themselves are they really committed to improving their performance or are they there to stroke their ego. I don’t care how much you say you want to improve, if you are not committed to making that a reality it is not a priority and therefore will not become a reality. If you are truly committed then the ego becomes trivial, failing and making mistakes are part of the process. They are encouraged and embraced in order to achieve the level of performance the student is pursuing. We have all heard it before, but checking your ego at the door is not the key, reflecting on what truly is your priority and whether you are committed to it is the real key.
Let performance be your guide
Dogma is more frustrating, but also pretty common. Due to the world being at your fingertips through the “errornet” we see a lot of crap. Dogma comes in many shapes and sizes, truthfully not all dogma is bad. If you are producing results through a dogmatic approach it becomes acceptable. If however, you are not producing consistent and on demand performance you need to let this be your guide. Performance standards are great for reinforcing or refuting dogma and if you are meeting the standards then good on you, but if not recognize your approach or reliance on these sacred cows may not be in your best interest. Don’t be afraid to let something go if it is not working for you regardless of where or who it came from. Be a disciple of performance, let it be your guide.
Be work in progress
Ignorance is the one that pisses me off the most. I am plenty ignorant on more subjects than I am literate in so keep that in mind. Even in my own expertise I still consider myself a work in progress. Constantly pushing the limits and testing theories. It is a never ending cycle and it begins with an acknowledgment you do not know everything. In fact the best thing you can do is accept you do not and let that pressure fall to the way side. Ignorance is a killer, it will kill you dead more than anything else in the world. You cannot allow it to govern your training, tactics or practices.
Classroom triage is real
As I mentioned at some point you will run into one if not all of these traits in a student. When these traits prevent them from reaching their potential they move closer and closer to unteachable. If they refuse to acknowledge the reality they are faced with and then open themselves up to genuinely improving they become unteachable. Performance standards are amazing, they allow us to categorize skill levels and make informed decisions not just on technique, but equipment, tactics and a whole bunch of other areas we can improve. In a recent class I had one student who had combinations of ego and dogma holding him back. While he made improvements he made them at a much slower rate than the rest of the class or his peers. On top of it, I will focus my attention on students who are genuinely there to learn. If all you do is make excuses about failed performance or standards I am not going to waste the time, when I could spend it on someone who will improve. It is nothing personal, but totally avoidable if you are able to recognize this learning pitfalls.
Life is a long ass classroom session. You can choose to skate through it and just get by, or you can take advantage of those who have already come before you and fast track your skill development. The choice is yours.