Running Teaching Events
by Toby Manning
This document provides advice to members arranging Teaching Events. It does not deal with One-to-One teaching; instead it concentrates on group teaching events in a face-to face context (i.e. not remotely over the internet).
You will need a small room. You will need to provide tea and coffee, and either provide lunch or ensure that there are local facilities for lunch.
The room should be at a reasonable temperature (neither too cold nor too hot: you do not want the students falling asleep), and is reasonably ventilated.
Either a magnetic demonstration board, or a computer with a projector onto a screen or blank wall can be used. If the latter is used, make sure that you are well prepared: all software, and the SGF Game files should be preloaded onto your computer, and the connection to the projector tested early. Remember that you will probably have no back up if you cannot get the computer/projector combination to work.
If using a projector ensure that the light is bright enough (or the room can be dimmed): projected images can be difficult to see in bright sunlight.
We recommend the following charges
- £4/half day (amateur teaching)
- £7.50 /full day (amateur teaching)
- Rates are doubled for professional teaching.
These costs do not include lunch or other refreshments.
The Lecturer should have two qualifications. Firstly, and most importantly, they should have a good, comprehensible, conversational style. They should show empathy with the audience, and be prepared to listen to them; they should also show flexibility, being prepared to change the timetable if appropriate.
Secondly they need to have a certain expertise at Go. It is suggested that:-
- If the teacher is of dan strength, they should be at least 4 stones stronger than the students
- If the teacher is kyu strength, they should be 6 stones stronger than the students
- To teach beginners, the teacher should be at least 15 kyu.
Finally, the lecturer should show some empathy with the students, and identify what will be important to them. If the students are 4 kyu, concentrate on the “4 kyu” mistakes, not on the “2 dan” mistakes and try to identify principles ( “why is this move wrong?”). A lesson that amounts to a succession of "in this position you play here” statements will not teach the students anything unless you can provide an explanation as to WHY one should play there.
Teaching experienced players
This section assumes a group of around 12 – 20 people, of a similar strength. The author has run a number of events aimed at an audience in the 6 - 12 kyu range.
The most important issues are to:-
- is to take the teaching slowly,
- have lots of breaks and
- do not try to do too much
- Remember that the audience are there to enjoy the event as well as to learn.
The timetable should have an absolute maximum of 4x1½ hour sessions (in a day); 4x1 hour sessions is recommended. A suitable timetable might be teaching sessions 10 – 11, 11:15 – 12:15, 13:15 to 14:15, 14:30 to 15:30. If players feel short-changed, let them play some Go between themselves.
The day should be planned and structured, and should use a mix of methods. The following are examples:
- Playing through a professional game
- Playing through a game provided by one of the participants
- Study of a small corner
- Study of a Joseki
- Self-study (in groups) of a yose problem
These are discussed in more details, with tips and hints.
At the end of the day it is worthwhile having a “wrap-up” session, with feedback forms and a Q&A session.
When playing through a professional game, it is important to involve the audience. Stop frequently and ask the class “where would you play? And why?” (Make sure you have an answer). This is sometimes called “penny go" (get the audience to place a penny on the point they believe is best).
Do not get involved in the analysis of complicated fights. You do not understand them, and neither will the audience: even if you do understand them, the audience will not learn anything. If you get involved in one (and ideally you will have selected a game which does not involve a big fight) leave its analysis as homework.
Try to identify principles. For example, a good furikawari (exchange) can be used to show that professionals are flexible, and prepared to sacrifice territory and even stones, hence the class should take the same attitude: too many kyu players believe territory is something to be defended at all costs. Similarly professionals understand the importance of sente and gote (“professionals do not play gote”) and use this to emphasise the principle.
Ensure that you are in a position to quickly put the moves onto a demonstration board (or, better, do it electronically using a computer display) – the author ran into trouble once trying simultaneously to hold a laptop, operate a mouse and put stones onto a demonstration board.
Playing through a game provided by one of the class can be very rewarding, particularly as you should be able to understand the mistakes that are being made (and indeed, the rest of the class probably make similar mistakes). Ask the participants beforehand to send you some examples.
Otherwise the principles are the same as for a professional game.
Small Corner Analysis
The author likes to teach the “L Group” for the following reasons:-
- it frequently occurs in games
- the L group is the largest group that is unequivocally dead
so that if your corner is invaded, one object is to force your opponent to make an L Group). All self-respecting aspirants to 1 kyu should know that “the L Group is dead” and it is easy to explain.
Another possibility is the J Group, as this also frequently comes up in games.
One can analyse a joseki but be careful – one should not simply analyse all the possible lines, but instead to use the joseki to identify some general principles. This will require a considerable amount of thought and preparation.
The author has run “Workshop” type teaching sessions, where players are put into groups of 3 or 4 and asked to solve a problem. I have tried it with a simple Yose problem (What is the best order of moves?). The problem MUST be simple – most Yose problems combine a “spot the tesuji” with a “sente or gote?” analysis: my advice is to avoid the requirement to spot tesuji and to concentrate on the sente/gote relationships. Yose counting then comes naturally.
For this to work the problem must be simple enough. The main advantages are twofold:
- it changes the format (getting away from the lecturing style)
- it gives the lecturer a break