Do you understand your audience?

Those of you who watch our Facebook live sessions or have read my blogs know that I have a 7 year old son and like most children of his age he has many school activities. Monday is his really busy day and his last session is a karate lesson. On Monday I went to his lesson for the first time and found it interesting to observe what happened.

I am not a karate expert and so can make no comment on the technique and specifics that the coach was teaching but I found it fascinating watching the method he used, trying to convey his message. In the class were three children — my son who is a beginner (he would like to tell you he is pretty close to a black belt), a girl who was probably around ten years old and a blue belt and finally a girl with a white belt who was probably around my son’s age. So this was a small class with slightly different abilities and knowledge.

After the first few drills I was completely confused by what he was asking the children to do. I know nothing about karate and was trying to pick up some tips and techniques so I could support my boy when practicing.but the coach’s instructions were so difficult to follow. My son spent most of the time looking at the other girls trying to follow what they were doing while being told to focus and look straight by the instructor. The poor guy didn’t know what to do

The lesson progressed to doing a certain number of moves as they moved forward and then changing their feet to swivel round and go back. It was a disaster — they had no idea which foot to use or how to move. After about five attempts the Sensei looked down and saw carpet tiles. He then explained which foot needed to go in which line of tiles and it worked. Purely by giving the children a visual cue he gave them something they could process and understand and execute. He was shocked by how simple this instruction was for them to understand.

I am guessing he doesn’t have children himself and therefore is not used to communicating in a way that his pupils would understand. But when I talked about this topic on one of our Facebook live sessions, one of our viewers, Sam, came online and very simply said ‘the difference between a good and bad teacher.’ Sam is an incredible dance teacher and has the ability to tell her dancers what she wants in a language that they understand. For example — those of you who have watched “Coach Carter” might remember that when the coach was giving his defensive instructions he used an ex girlfriend to tell a story that visualised what he wanted his players to do and guess what? It worked.

So spend time truly understanding your audience and ensure that you are talking a language that they understand and can use all different senses and cues to facilitate learning. That is the difference between good and great!

My comments :

What is Coach Carter? A movie? This section is rather clumsy

Were his old girlfriends there to tell their story or was he using them as an example?

My suggestion :

For example — those of you who have watched the movie “Coach Carter” might remember that when he was giving his defensive instructions he used a situation that he had been in with an ex girlfriend as an example. He told the story in such a way that the players could visualise the scene and it explained what he wanted his players to do and guess what?

Originally published at on June 23, 2017.