Don't Fear the Teacher

April 7, 2022, Israel

We are currently celebrating the holiday of Pesach/Passover. Wednesday, we had the "Seder", the "Order", a long evening where we sit at the table with our families, recite and study the lessons of our forefathers and the Biblical account of the Exudes from Egypt. Everything is on the table, literally, not only our finest dishes but all questions are welcomed. Ne, they are encouraged. Everything is done to encourage questioning. It is not considered rude to challenge the opinion of another. In fact, even children are encouraged to ask questions. Certain things are changed, different foods, different ways of siting, all to encourage the young ones to ask, Why is this night different from all others.

In short, we can call this a night of educating ourselves and the next generation. We are never content with our knowledge or wisdom, as it is written, "Even though we are all wise, even though we all know the Torah and the traditions, it is obligatory upon us to recite and question these teachings." 

On this night we not only learn about our history and the reasons behind our traditions, we also learn about Education. We learn how to teach. 

Most people have trouble learning new things; look at the dropout rate for all courses. Taking just two as example, the study of a foreign language, and the study of martial arts, we see phenomenal dropout rates. When speaking to those who dropped out, many reasons are cited, among them; fear of the teacher. People are afraid. They are afraid to ask questions, they are afraid to stand up in front of a group, they are afraid of being considered a poor student, they are afraid of being embarrassed. 

Teachers have their own issues. Many need these classes as a way of overcoming their own internal demons. They need to feel powerful; they need to be in control. They want to be respected but they truly are clueless as how to earn the respect of their students, instead, they earn their fear. It is much easier to be fear than it is to be respected. In martial arts classes the teacher wants to be seen as an authority figure, he wants to be seen as a Tough Guy, or a Bad Ass. He feels this is the way to earn the respect of his/her students. Softness, gentleness, is perceived by them as weakness. They channel their own insecurities upon their students. The results are very damaging. 

Sadly, the class becomes a place for the teacher to overcome his own psychological insecurities, but this comes at the expense of the students. 

 A confident teacher need not flutter his feathers in front of his students. A confident martial arts instructor does not to hurt his students, physically or emotionally, all this type of behavior is simply a display of weakness. Choose a truly strong teacher.

On Passover we are reminded how to teach; arouse the curiosity of the children/students, encourage questioning, create a comfortable environment that is conducive to true learning. Happy Passover everyone.


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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