I would like to discuss and issue. Now this may be an issue for some and a matter of semantics for others, but I think that it is something that needs to be looked at both from the teacher/instructor point of view and also the student's point of view. What I am talking about is the difference between a teacher and an instructor, and consequently teaching versus instruction.
Now first we have a look at the words, a teacher teaches, and an instructor instructs. Pretty simple really. The question is which one has the most benefit for both the student and the teacher/instructor. In essence I would like to look at it this way, instruction involves the giving of a set of techniques which the student follows, the instructor says and the student does, this is the essence of instruction. Teaching differs from this, a teacher teaches the student the technique and explains what it is based upon and how it fits into fencing overall. This involves a two way form of communication something that instruction is missing.
So the big question here is do we want to be instructors or teachers? Or another way to look at it are you a teacher or an instructor? Teaching involves explanation of what is happening in the technique. Instruction just deals with the technique and perfecting it. Now, there has to be some element of instruction in the teaching in order to pass the information along, but there has to be more than that in order for it to be teaching. How is only one question that can be asked of a technique, there is also why and when which are relevant to understanding a technique properly. The teacher should be able to answer these questions. The instructor will not worry about them as all he is interested in is the how of the technique.
Instruction is easy, teaching is hard. The question here is whether we have the willingness to put in the effort in order to improve ourselves and our students as a result. Any person can tell another how to perform most fencing actions and make sure that they can do it properly. It takes someone more dedicated to teach the person the action as there is a fuller explanation of the action. We should all strive to become teachers of fence rather than instructors as this will result in better students and further on better fencers.
From the student's point of view you must ask, do I have an instructor or a teacher? Am I being given instruction or am I being taught? Most of the things that have already been discussed from this point of view as well. A student needs to be able to have the fullest explanation of every element of the fencing actions that are being taught, rather than just being instructed how to do it. You need to seek a teacher of fence more than an instructor. The instructor will perfect your technique, but the teacher will give you the full explanation and explain how this action fits with all the others.
This is an element which some think about and more should. Have a think, are you being instructed or taught? Are you a teacher or an instructor?