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Dieter: Let me add a few notes on How to teach in general.

First, you have to set goals for your teaching. Who's the audience? What are they expecting from the lectures? What do you intend to teach them? How to teach Go largely depends on whether your trainees are newbies, beginners, children, passers-by on a Games Exposition, or one single dedicated student.

Second, you have to explore the available resources. What material do you have/need? How frequently will you teach? How many auxiliary teachers will be present? What are the qualities of the teachers?

Third, you have to take the human nature into account. Attention span decreases with the number of people present and with time. People learn more by doing something than by showing it to them. The levels of understanding are: accepting, understanding and performing. Many lectures get stuck at the acceptance level.

Chris Hayashida: Having started playing go just over a year ago, and now teaching a beginner's class, I thought I'd share my thoughts, less on material, and more on style:

  1. If you are watching your students play, try not to comment on every move. They are usually having a tough time trying to play as it is, and often saying too much will only lead to more confusion. If they have a question, they will ask. I have found that commenting too much may also undermine a student's confidence. I was once asked by a student, "What's the best move?" after four moves on a 19x19!
  2. I like capture go, and I like normal go. Make it the student's choice. Some people want to play "real go" as soon as possible. Others just have fun reading and trying to take stones. However, I have noticed that capture go leads to aggressive play and some bad habits, like BeginnersPlayAtari.
  3. Don't start by playing a handicap game against them. (moved to HowNotToTeachGo)
  4. Class needs to be fun. I think just some of the cultural notes, HikaruNoGo, and just being friendly in general goes a long way to retaining students. Letting them play (and make their own mistakes) is also important. It is also much more fun to play others at your level.

As for technique, I would say that these are the most important, after the basic rules:

  1. Cutting and connecting
  2. Miai (even if only showing how a kosumi is still connected)
  3. Extensions in the opening
  4. Tesuji - Ladders, nets, chase down, throw-ins, and snapback can all be discussed as they come up. The students usually think "Wow, that's neat!" and begin to look for tesuji in their games.

Conversely, I think these can wait:

  1. Life and death - It doesn't come up on a 9x9 as much, and it sort of sticks more when they happen about it by themselves. It probably should be introduced early, but it can quickly get dry (and boring) with formal study. If they ask, teach, if not, let them play a bit and figure it out. I was so impressed when, after one day of play, a student came up with "Four (spaces) in a row is alive" on his own. He then extrapolated that it didn't matter if the four was not in a straight line. Theory is often more meaningful and memorable if the logic is behind it. They should start studying it when they play on a 19x19, and can also learn post-mortem when a group is killed. This will also help develop a feeling of the amount of space that a group will need to live.
  2. Ko - Meaningful ko just doesn't doesn't happen on a 9x9 board. Explain the rule if it comes up, but leave out the theory until they play on a bigger board. There's just not enough room to make a threat. (Often even if there is a threat, it's too difficult explaining how to value the ko and the threat, let alone trying to have beginners try to calculate it themselves in their own games.)
  3. Joseki - Obviously, they don't work on a 9x9. I think without understanding all of the concepts behind the joseki, studying them is all but useless for beginners.

Bob McGuigan: A couple of observations. First, the famous Japanese pro and teacher Izumitani Masanori 7p advised that when teaching beginners explain as little as possible to get them able to play, then let them play and discover the rest of the rules and concepts for themselves. Ko and what it takes to keep a group from being captured, for example, are most easily discovered rather than taught. Next, the Japanese seem to feel that teaching beginners is a worthy activity even for strong professionals. Izumitani sensei gave a series classes for beginners on NHK television several years ago. At the 2004 U. S. Go Congress someone had the bright idea of having a series of newbie/beginner classes for spouses and companions of players. Who taught these classes? One of the strongest pros at the Congress (8p!). I have seen some of Izumitani's TV classes and watched Saijo-sensei teach beginners at the U. S. Congress, and I was struck by the enthusiasm and compassion these fine teachers demonstrated.

John Redford (7k): I occasionally teach a large class of complete beginners, and I've stopped playing my own moves. I now call another student over and ask if they will place my stones for me. I start by pointing to exactly where I want to play, but then back off and just say 'push', 'cut', 'extend', 'jump' and so on, I just make sure to gesture toward the section of the board where I want to play and trust them to find the move. I usually don't correct them if they don't play exactly where I want. I think that this technique (besides being lots of fun for all involved) gets the person placing the stones thinking about moves in a more systematic way.

Paths: <= Club =>   ·   <= Teaching Methods =>
TeachingGoToNewcomers/Generalities last edited by on September 7, 2013 - 20:54
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