Friday, September 16, 2005

Teaching and being taught.

The go community is great. From the go teaching ladder to the beginners room on kgs, the willingness to teach others about go is very impressive. But something odd has happened to me and my friends on a couple of occasions. Some people get angry. Some people fight back. Worst of all, some people take the review very personally.

We have to respect that people of different cultures react to direct speech differently. This coupled with language barriers and we have a situation where you should think once or twice before speaking. Now. Some teachers are very blunt. So blunt that some may perceive them as rude. Of course the weaker player has done his best, and it can hurt his or her pride to hear this critisism. Don't let it get to you, you don't have to like the teacher to like the knowledge that is passed on to you.

When you teach, try to be mindful of how you put things. This sounds like common sense. But when being taught, remember why you are being taught. None of the comments are about you.. they are about the stones that are on the board infront of you. when you look at them, remove yourself from them and focus on why a move is bad, and how to avoid it.


ChiyoDad said...

IMHO, the inconvenience of keyboard communication contributes to these misunderstandings as well. We often find ourselves being terse in our comments to save more than a few keystrokes.

Also, without facial expressions or speech inflections for additional reference, it becomes even more difficult to discern meanings behind words.

Of course, it's not unimaginable that more advanced players may get frustrated during a review ("Why can't he SEE that it's a useless move?").

O_Scientist said...

Good point. I have seen a lot of different teaching styles, and I have to admit that I don't care how some one teaches, I just want the information. But I do know people who get upset by too blunt reviews, even if most of the bluntness is in their imagination. So it's always better to err on the side of gentleness in your reviews and say things like 'A good move here would be ...' as opposed to 'Your move sucks'.


frankiii said...

My own 2 cents is that, if you're a kyu player and you take yourself and your game so seriously that you get angry when someone else says something harsh like "Your move sucks" then I think you may have other larger issues to work on before go.

I, personally, would not use that kind of language, but that doesn't mean it cannot be effective nor does it mean that it's still not a valid lesson to learn from. If a move stinks, it stinks. If you cannot see something, then you cannot see something. Big deal. Try to learn from it and move on.

hdoong said...

Hi, my two cents as well from the perspective of a malaysian player. in general, when we do game reviews, we are okay with the stronger player although he says something that means "this move sucks". But there is one player that a lot of people dislike because his language are direct attacks, such as "Even my dog plays better than you". Most people cannot stand that but his comments are good. For people who can take that kind of words, he or she will naturally absorb the knowledge. For those who cannot, they simply move on to find people that they can agree on and still improve.

The funny thing about this "rude" guy is that in real person, he is superbly nice and polite, until there is a game up for comments and he will act like he is on the server. Besides that, in everything else, he is polite and humble. It strikes me as a wierd phenomenon....

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ChiyoDad said...

Per, have you considered turning on RSS feeds to make it easier for us to track you blog? Thanks BTW for offering to comment on my last game. My email is

BTW, you may want to turn on Blogger's word verification to eliminate comment spam.

Shinmen Musashi said...

People getting offended by honest and blunt comments is a very common thing in the Western world.

It has something to do with the way we are raised, I think. The way of the individual. You know.. You learn that you're unique, that you're the best, and that you're perfect in your own way and all that stuff. While in Japan, which is a society which focuses mainly on groups, you don't get that stuff. You get blunt teachings, repetation, and critics... And I think that's healthy for a person.

In my experience bluntness saves time, and it doesn't blur the message that the teacher is trying to give you. When I'm posting my 3D renders for critique, I'd much rather have people say:
"The geometry on that head is just plain wrong. Where are his cheek bones? Those streched textures on the floor just won't do. And use Inverse Square on your light sources, or they won't look realistic" than "It's a very nice image! Very nice idea! This is gonna end up great! Maaaaybe the floor textures are a little bit stretched, but it's no real problem, I'm sure.", or even worse: "it's nice! :)".

Or in the dojo! Progress would not be happening there if my loyal instructors didn't point out my mistakes in a blunt and sometimes painful manner all the time!

So as long as they say: "That's wrong, this is right" instead of "you suck!", then everything is as it should be!

BTW, nice blog! I like the way you're doing this thing.

Dan said...

I certainly wouldn't want a teacher to tell me what I would like to hear instead of what I need to hear. Whatever the subject I am being taught in, while it is very comforting to know that I am doing some things right I am also interested in identifying the mistakes and the proper remedies against them.

Because of that, I am not offended when a stronger player points out that I made a bad move. Of course I am disappointed in one sense, but on the other hand everyone makes mistakes (and even more so around my level) and I invariably think that perhaps I can avoid making the same mistake later if I actually take the time to absorb what my teacher is telling me. However, no teacher can expect results if he resorts to verbal abuse of students instead of helping them.

I don't think there is anything wrong with engaging in discussion with your teacher ("but what if..."), but I would largely rely on the judgement of the stronger player because he possesses more knowledge about the game than I do. Go is such a complex game that pride alone does not get you far at all.

Alexus said...


I just read your blog, so I thought I'd drop some note about it, if you don't mind..
First of all, I really like the style you write in, it's interesting, and enjoyable to read, so please keep on^^ It's hard to find a good blog (especially go blog) like that.

What you wrote about teaching on kgs.. although you say people are always willing to teach there, usually when I make a new acount and I have a "?" nobody is willing to play me. I think a game with a "?" is not much different from a teaching game, yet they nearly always decline those.. Isn't it strange?
My teacher who I can thank very much, always found the way to tell me if I did something stupid without seriously hurting my feeling or such, like: This move is a little strange, or this move is chicken move (my favorite:))))When I teach I also try to teach like that (now I'm 1 dan).

However, there are stricter minds, who don't really care about being polite or such..I think it's just like being optimist or pessimist...

I think sometimes it's a good way to make the weaker player realize his/her mistakes, but without really any applause it can get seriously mean, and it really can hurt...:-/
Also many time the weaker player try to "rewiew" the game, and this can be pretty frustrating for the stronger player. These times it's really usual that they lose their calm and get a bit rude, but maybe it's normal(?)
Thank you for reading my comment through.. I hope it's not too long..Bye:) Take care:)

Gilgamesh said...

Thanks everybody for your great comments :) Been on a blogging and go hiatus. but now I'm thirsty for more of both.

Alexus, can't write too long a comment. :)