To Teach; To Learn; To Change – Insight from Vic Braden (via James Fallows), John Wooden, and Peter Drucker, among others

We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning!
Peter Drucker

Through learning, we re-create ourselves.
Peter Senge

What am I? Just a teacher – a member of one of the great professions in the world.
The coach must never forget that he is, first of all, a teacher. He must come (be present), see (diagnose), and conquer (correct). He must continuously be exploring for ways to improve himself in order that he may improve others and welcome every person and everything that may be helpful to him.
John Wooden, Wooden on Leadership

Do people learn? People don’t.
Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness


Vic Braden
Vic Braden

Vic Braden recently died. One of the great tennis “teachers.” James Fallows wrote a tribute, with great content – Vic Braden: The man who taught America tennis during the boom era of the sport.  Notice these Fallows’ observations about Braden:

Vic Braden was a deep and serious person, and a good one.
About Vic Braden I will say that he seemed to be a born teacher and evangelist
Vic Braden seemed excited by the idea of dealing with mediocre players, because there was so much more he could teach us.

I played tennis back in the 1960s-early 1970s. (The key word in that sentence is played. Not much these days). I was ranked; went through college on a tennis scholarship, but I was never in the top tier. Though I had great coaches that meant a lot to me, it would have been nice to have spent some weeks under a Vic Braden’s teaching.

For two or three reasons, I’ve thought a lot about teaching and learning and change these last few days. They are intimately related – teaching; learning; change. We need to be taught. But, for teaching to be successful, the student has to be a serious learner. And, when the learner is serious, and the teaching is good, then change is possible.

(By the way, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the best teachers can motivate learners, and at times maybe even “create” learners. But ultimately, if a person simply does not want to learn, well… even the best teacher cannot do much with such a person).

So, a question, and then a great video.

The question:

are you serious about learning?

Be honest in your answer…

Now, the video. Fallows includes it in his tribute to Vic Braden. It’s short (under three minutes). It’s about “On changing the backhand, but really about change in general.” Yes, in my tennis game, I had a few changes that if I had made them (if I had known to make them), I would have improved my tennis game.

I’ve watched it, and it really helps you know the challenge you face when learning requires actual change – whether it’s changing your backhand, or anything else you need to change. Watch it – it’s really not (just) about tennis.


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