These students are probably the most misunderstood students in the dojo, but they are my favourite! What is a "Why?" student though? Well, you know how at some point in everyone's life, typically as a toddler, they go through the infamous "why phase"? The time in thier lives where they have to know "why" about EVERYTHING?! Yeah, thats these students. The students that ask the "why" about pretty much everything. But these students are my favourite, because they are trying to grasp exactly what it is we are doing, even if they arenlt trying to.
Here's the thing though, most of the time, other classmates can get annoyed when the same student is stopping class to ask "why?" all the time. Is this a bad thing? It can be. It really all depends on how you as an instuctor, handle it. My philosophy is this: if it is over general importance for the immediate drill, stop the class and explain what was asked as well as the answer. However, if it is something that is not of immediate importance or relevance, answer the students question one to one, but make note to explain this particular "why answer" the next time the drill is done in class. This helps to eliminate the amount of time the class is stopped but also ensures that the answer gets across to all the students at some point.
I often find that the "why?" students are the students who seem to preform better. Thier moves are sharper, stronger, cleaner. Thier self-defense is quick and efficent. The students that ask why, the students that try to get that deeper understanding of the drill, the kata, or the technique, are often the students that have an easier time achieving thier next belt as well.
I talked about this, I believe, in my "McDojo" blog, that a teacher than cannot answer the "why" or is responding with "because I said so" or "that is just how it is", is probably not a very good teacher. Now, I am not saying that there is one correct answer for a question, but none the less, there is some kind of answer, and every student, every instructor will have a different one. But it will be a valid one. I will be the first to admit, there have been times where a student asks me why and I do not have an answer at that moment because I honestly don't know. BUT, I am not afraid to tell my students that I am not sure, and i will ALWAYS find them an answer. I strongly believe that a student asking a question should never be left without an answer. Even if it takes time to get that answer.
They "why?" students are important students. These are the students who are testing limits, the students who are trying to expand thier knowledge, the students who will expand the knowledge of thier fellow students, and if you're lucky, the students that will expand your knowledge too. So don't dismiss these students. Don't get annoyed or frustrated or angry. These students are the best kind of students. These students are the ones who aren't afraid to learn.