The nature of teacher and the killer of Joy

Fun in teaching… not so much fun in learning this way

Allan Bloom in his controversial book “Closing of the American Mind” wrote: “The teacher …. is guided by the awareness, or the divination, that there is a human nature, and that assisting its fulfilment is his task. …Midwifery describes teaching more adequately than does the word socialization. … No real teacher can doubt that his task is to assist his pupil to fulfil human nature against all the deforming forces of convention and prejudice. … Moreover there is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul, or in a magic that acts on it through speech.”

The questionable and provoking statement of Mr. Blooms is, for me, a good contribution to knowledge.

“Midwifery” is a word that Socrate and Plato selected to define their system to wisdom. They call it “maieutic” and it sets a separation between teachers or thinkers who use power (I am the appointed one and you must learn from me) and the ones who share a passion for excellence /improvement (I can help in changing, growing, learning).

I believe as well that at the core of teaching there is the concept of serving, placing yourself at the level with the student and helping him to bring out (midwifery – maieutic) the awarness and potential that is inside.

For these reasons the real teacher refuses titles since are symbols of transmitted (not acquired) power and elements of self gratification.

The teaching process (learning process) is based on the desire to improve (in any field) the world we live in and the people that share with us the experience.

The subject was brought back from my archives by a brief note I receive from my friend Attila, intelligently reacting to some of my blogs: “In a single bulletin – he writes- you dropped innuendos at motorcycle magazines, social media and people sharing on them, retro and classic motorcycles, lifestyle and the trends in motorcycle groups, clubs and street racers. Feeling grumpy these days?

Yes I feel grumpy and, even worst, grumpiness is not limited to these days, I had a grumpy side since I started school. Sharing ideas and project with so called “motorcycle professional teachers” raises the level of grumpiness to intolerable heights. 

Maybe for that reason, few days later, Attila sent me a longer note: “Your words about nostalgia and past, combined with accidents, solo riding and weird coincidences, all came at an interesting time. I also feel like the past was more fun. You are right, we were more vital for sure. Were we more vital because we had more fun, or we had more fun because we were more vital. This I cannot decide.

Lately lots of things around motorcycles feel like a charade and these absorb my energy. While taking any trainings  people are pushed to fully shield up with state of the art protection but then bikes are ridden with such speed that the protection itself will never be able to survive in case of an accident.

Who are we trying to deceive? Ourselves? Trainees? Faith? Laws of physics? Then this guy who swivels through traffic on the highway with full throttle despises you for the daily jeans you had ridden in the short distance from home to the sea shore to grab a cup of coffee with folks. This “mine is righter approach” exhausts me.

In the long chain of reasoning you , Paolo, are a part of the cause.  Riding is a way of thinking. Strong and creative. But somehow it has shifted to “thinking while riding is the way”.

Constant quality assessments in each turn, harsh self critics for missing to detect the hazard that would be a risk if it was there then, continuous search for progress and personal limits. I do not mean these are unnecessary. In the contrary they are. These might have saved my life in multiple cases without me even realising it.

But at some point I let this took over riding and fun. Tool became aim, secondary tool lost importance and aim disappeared. Having fun should have stayed as the aim, riding a bike should be the tool and thinking should be the support to continue to have fun. I am trying to sort these out.

In this bitter mixture lets add a pinch of “my ego is bigger”. How come people let a friendly group of riders who are there to share the fun of riding turn to a club with ego and policy wars? Most absurd how come people value this nonsense more than anything? How come people stand to people they despise for not leaving the precious club to them? 

So as you see I am befuddled. I am looking for the past fun in riding as you do and I hopefully will find it again. Like the sunny corner on the way to Izmir, lost in unison with my bike where I felt like seeing myself from above. I should have left riding like there and then. I hope you find your fun back too. This was just to bare my heart but it seems I had more to tell than I have imagined”

Attila is right today: I am partially responsible for a group of now demential riders who take teaching, training and interfering with the most fanatic attitude:  Attila would have not be right twenty years ago when the Project Training MC started as a way two bring more joy to the use of two wheels and one engine.

As defence: for any biker/expert/trainer (Glydonesque boy scouts) criticising your Jeans and Trainers we have now in Turkey ten bikers excelling in having fun on motorcycle winning GP, visiting Terra del Fuego, touring Europe, crossing the Pontic and Toros mountains and visiting Gobekli Tepe …and doing all this with riding competence and fluency.

I met recently an not-so-young rider who was with me at the start of one of the many training academies in Istanbul. While age brought me a sense of detachment from taking biking seriously and from promoting competent riding, it brought to my old friend the firm belief of being not only right but on permanent service of teaching.

Being master of riding and prophet of the true way of doing it, sclerotised his knowledge and the transformation of a passion into a business did the rest. As visible result, his approach to any subject became dogmatic and he developed a very negative view of all “his students”.

More… a negative hidden view of Motorcycling as a JOB, a PROFESSION, a USEFUL SKILL to be shared (or to be imposed) with the same enthusiasm of my teacher of CHEMISTRY at school who managed to never use the lab in three years of the course.

Is knowledge the death of Joy?

Are the teacher serial killers of pleasure?

Not if you consider the role that some of your teachers played in raising your passion and enthusiasm.

Maybe we have to wait for more time, for a new generation of less greedy and more curious teachers of the art of riding. Or maybe the subject (motorcycle road training) just attract sad, depressing and partially sadists personalities.

2 thoughts on “The nature of teacher and the killer of Joy

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  1. Reading this post, I remembered your note “Errors and Mistakes” that questions the reasons why one rides. Why one teaches? For the glory, fame and recognition or “as discipline for acquiring skills and virtues – as a way of being and thinking”…

  2. For some particular students, I remain loyal to Socrates and use the Elenchus method instead. Proven to be more effective in some cases.

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