This article completes our series on how to find the best Forex teacher.
17. Showing vs. Teaching
In the Forex industry we've come to accept a substandard norm of instruction that has very little to do with "teaching". To say that a typical course involves "teaching" or "learning" is impossible. They more often than not just involve lecturing and listening.
If you look up the Socratic Method, you'll see that it came about because Socrates was frustrated with the style of teaching in the 5th Century BC, which was very much like this forex substandard norm we see today. Teachers used rhetoric to entertain, impress or persuade their audience. Socrates promoted an alternative method which engaged discussion and created what we call a "feedback loop". Neither teaching nor learning can take place in any environment where the feedback loop is either broken or not offered at all.
There's a huge difference between "Showing" someone how to do something and "Teaching" someone how to do something. Unfortunately the Forex industry is filled with people who believe that they are instructors when they are really just like those teachers from the 5th Century who felt that their job was to impress and persuade others to believe that they have something of interest to teach.
Let's look at what teaching really should encompass. Have you ever studied music or sent one of your children to a music class? We both study piano so we'll use this to illustrate a point. Imagine sending your child to a piano class and the teacher has your child sit beside the piano while she, the teacher, sits at the piano and plays. She talks about playing and about the music but she never lets your child sit on the piano bench and play the music. She never watches to see if the child has good finger positions and posture, if they understand how to read the notes and if their rhythm is correct.
In fact, she never checks in to see if anything she has taught is being understood and never follows up from the prior week's lesson to see if anything made sense or needed to be reviewed – or perhaps taught in a different way to match the child's innate way of learning. Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner, a reading-writing learner or a tactile/kinesthetic learner? This teacher has no idea unless they actually evaluate what has been understood and what has not, and so they have no chance of modifying their approach to match the needs of your child.
If you sent your child to a piano class like this and heard what was going on, you wouldn't even think about sending your kid back a second time. You'd be outraged and you'd look for a better teacher who actually had your child sit at the piano and play and gave feedback and correction.
Every academic environment includes not only the lectures but the interaction and the feedback process between the teacher and the student. There are quizzes and exams to check on the student's level of understanding. Why are exams important? Because if a student doesn't understand something that he is being taught, it's often hard to ask the right questions to get clarification. Sometimes you don't even recognize on your own that you've misunderstood something. This is why all true teaching and learning has to be a two-way street that includes a feedback loop so that the teacher can see if he/she is being understood and can help the students in the areas where they are confused.
How could this teaching model work in the forex industry? Easy. In our minds the ideal forex teacher would spend the beginning half of each class showing the concepts and techniques involved in their trading approach. After that the teacher would devote the remainder of the time to having each student run the Forex Tester in front of the whole class to identify the trades and the thought process that goes into analyzing each decision in order to demonstrate their understanding. Everyone would have a chance to ask questions, and equally important, reveal to the teacher any misunderstandings that may have occurred. Having each student spend time on the simulator during the class would benefit the entire group.
We once took a class where it was required that we had the Forex Tester loaded onto our computer before our registration fee was even accepted and that was a good sign. However, throughout the 3 days of the class we never used it once and were expected to practice with it on our own time. That didn't do anything to further our understanding of this teacher's strategy or thought process. That makes us wonder if these teachers are afraid to show that their strategies really don't work?
Yes, you could say that in most classes the students have a chance to ask questions, but if someone has misunderstood something, it's usually the teacher who will recognize it, not the individual themselves, and it's up to the teacher to correct that misunderstanding. Just as learning a piano piece takes months of practice and interaction with the teacher to get things right, so too does learning how to trade require months of questions, answers, corrections and practice.
The true teaching curriculum would also include that each week each student submit one trade they have taken that clearly demonstrates the principles being taught, with notes they have taken about the trade, screenshots and results. (By the way, the Forex Smart Tools Trade Log includes a one-click button to export each trade as a PDF that makes sending just such a report to your teacher a snap.) And then the teacher would take the time to comment on these submitted homework assignments. "Yes, you got it" / "No, you totally missed watching out for ___" / "Good, but why aren't you using the exit strategy we talked about in class…", etc.
If you have trouble imagining this working in a forex classroom, then that just speaks to how brainwashed we've all been to accept such a low level standard of instruction. It can be done better and it should be done better.
If you'd like to review the previous posts of the checklist, here are direct links to those articles:
P.S. Your comments let us know you've found this series thought-provoking and useful. Or at least entertaining…. Thanks for letting us know.