First Teachers



Lately I’ve been reminded of the importance of First Teachers….and First Lessons.

In learning theory,  the Law of Primacy tells us that we tend to remember best what we learned first. Our first teachers lay patterns of thought, conduct, and practice that become very deeply rooted. So when choosing martial instructors, firearms instructors, or tactical/self defense instructors it is important to choose wisely, to avoid later having to spend countless hours unlearning, rebooting, and rooting out the bad programming a bad, or unknowing, teacher may have installed.

This has been true in the different disciplines I have practiced, and observed both in myself and now, down the road a bit, in other teachers and students. The saying that there are “no bad students, only bad teachers” is foolish. Of course there are bad students – I’ve been one myself! And some bad students go on to become bad teachers…

Some teachers I moved on from fairly quickly. Some were fine, good even, but they just weren’t for me, or did not bring me closer to my goals at the time.


Others I thought were bad, or weren’t for me, until I learned that it was me that was the bad egg. When we learn to see what we did not or could not see before – we get closer to that bird’s eye view of the map the teacher was laying out – and we realize that in our obstinacy, pride, or foolishness that we did not recognize or place our trust in a good teacher.

And trust is very important. Without it, real learning cannot occur. The student will always doubt, even sub-consciously, and the teacher will glean it and realize the student isn’t ready for – or worthy of – the learning.


And so it goes. I’ve walked off more than one path, and found I’d been right to do so. Others, I learned later were leading exactly where I wanted to go – but I got off the way too early, and had to find an alternate route to get back on the map.

Fortunately, another principle of learning tells us that what is learned last – most recently – is also best remembered.



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