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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

Structure and Frameworks


It's one of those things that we who teach the martial arts can get obsessive about.

Some of us are in a permanent state of curriculum revision. We're never quite completely happy with how we're teaching what we do. We're constantly revising it, adding in new material, removing old material, re-arranging the order.

Like this, but with kicks and punches and stuff. Click on the image to see the source.

My teacher is like this. Since I started training with him in 2010, we've had four formal curricula, the latest version being one we helped him finish up on his last visit. He's been tinkering with it for a couple of years.

This means that what I had to know as one of his first black belts is quite different than what is expected of his of up-and-coming students today.

Now I'm taking his new curriculum and fitting it into the new program we're launching this fall. I can't take his curriculum directly, because our program has half the formal training time his does in a week - not a non-trivial consideration.

Additionally, I have to design my curriculum to support the curriculum offered by the organization I belong to, which has the same material but sorta organized differently.

I'm hoping to finish a curriculum I don't feel like I need to constantly tinker with. I'm NOT one of those people who want to obsess over curriculum. I'm a "let's write this and leave it alone" kinda gal.

I want a structure that can support a bit of variance here and there, but still remain... a structure. A framework I can build my new program around that will stand strong and not require constant fiddling with it to make it work. As this is the first draft, I suspect I'll end up revising it based on what we see and do in practice, but I'm hoping that I can get to a "final" version that won't need any more tweaking for a long time.

I think that's important, for me as an instructor, and for my students to understand the material. Consistency and clarity.

One of the best-run schools I was ever in did a great job with this. They had a well organized, detailed curriculum (with some key reference material) that you brought with you to class and made notes in when you trained. It was really helpful when you were practicing at home. They revised it sometimes, but frequently enough to confuse students much (and the changes they made weren't HUGE changes, just tweaks here and there).

I'm using that as my inspiration for what I'm working on. But hey, since it's still in progress, I'm interested in what you have to say about curriculum.

✔ What's important in a curriculum?

✔ How should a student use a curriculum in training?

✔ Do you use a basic outline or are you really detailed, with pictures and reference material?

✔ Do you have a set progression or do you use a rotating curriculum? Pros and cons?

✔ What did you like or dislike about a curriculum as a student?

✔ If you're an instructor, what are some of the things you've learned about writing and working with curricula?

Let me know what YOU think is important in an curriculum!

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