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The KEY Questions: What makes a good teacher?

2 December 17

I punched the four-digit code into a little metal box on a pole by the side of the dirt track and sat waiting for what seemed like several minutes while the electronic gates slowly opened, all the while trying to keep my mind free of any insecure, negative thoughts. I’d made this trip so many times before through the ancient Hertfordshire woodland that I swear my car could have got there on its own, but this morning was different. This morning I’d decided on a new approach.

After several minutes winding my way up the long drive in a suitably low gear, a curious herd of deer charting my progress from underneath the shade of some trees, I reached the top of a gentle incline and the familiar, wonderfully ornate fifteenth century Gothic Manor House loomed up ahead. Knebworth House has been a regular venue for most of my training sessions these past few years. The setting is idyllic, far enough away from the ‘real’ world of traffic cones, shopping centres and industrial estates to put my students into a tranquil, receptive frame of mind, even before the teaching begins.

Some time later, having welcomed everyone, chatted with them over coffee and got them seated, I stood before them, ready to embark on the first day of a three-day retreat instructing them in the understanding that is the Three Principles. I looked across at the bone-white paper of my flip chart. Nothing there to help me with my opening address, but that was how I’d planned it. No notes, no script, no agenda, just me and these lovely, smiling, trusting people, looking up at me, waiting for me to speak.

   I had no clue as to what I was going to say.

“Hi everyone … how are you all doing?”

If you’ve spent any time with me you’ll know that I have a terrible habit of breaking off a conversation by suddenly pulling out my phone to trawl through Wikipedia or some other site for a nugget of information that’s of absolutely no interest to anyone but me. I guess a Freudian perspective would put it down to that same old insecurity about my lack of formal education, (did I mention my lack of formal education?) but the fact is I can’t stand ‘not knowing’. That hunger for facts, while no doubt a little annoying for those who have to witness it, has actually served me pretty well in my professional life. I was never a boy scout but if I had a motto for business purposes it would be ‘Be Prepared’. Of course! Why risk looking dumb when you’re supposed to be the man in charge, the one with all the answers? Isn’t teaching about earning the respect of your students by knowing more than they know?

No, as it turns out, it isn’t.

If there’s one very valuable lesson that the Principles have taught me, (and there are many), it’s the value of listening. That means having no agenda, other than a desire to share something of your own understanding, and you can’t do this if you’re trying to remember a script, or if your head is bursting with facts and figures. I had got it wrong all those years. It turns out that if you want to be a good teacher, the way to win your students’ respect is first and foremost to listen to them.

You will find this quality of stillness in all the great teachers from Sydney Banks onwards, the ability to stay in the moment. After all, if the Principles can’t be understood with the intellect, then how can they be taught that way? A typical lecture (which I’m quite sure is the wrong word) on the Principles given by, say, Chip Chipman, Elsie Spittle or George Pransky will have an umbrella title such as ‘Dealing with stress’ or ‘How to have a better relationship’, but the central problem being addressed soon broadens out into a wider understanding of how we experience reality. Why is this? Because the Principles create every aspect of our experience, every moment of every day.

I don’t remember what I said to those people at Knebworth, and anyway it doesn’t matter. All I know is that the retreat was a success. So here’s my question: if this very open approach is true of the Principles, could it be true of all other forms of teaching?

Should we, in fact, be doing less teaching and more listening?



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  • Having attended David's course and then had some one to one sessions with him my approach to my life has changed dramatically and improved. David has a very gentle and empathic way about him, yet managed to challenge my habitual way of being and thinking. As a result of our time together I now practice his "way of being" and I truly find that I am getting far better results in all of the relationships that I encounter. My inner chatter is under control, most of the time, and I am learning to pause and push away harmful thinking . It's surprising how habitual thinking can do so much damage and how, once you really focus on what comes into your mind you start to realise that you can be bigger than your random thoughts. So David thank you for putting me on a better pathway. Looking forward to sharing another journey with the Auspicium family!
    Rowena Wild

  • The course I attended with David Key was marvellous, every moment being filled with joy and laughter. David has a unique talent to teach, unlocking the full potential of every person he encounters. His course opened up an infinite number of ways for me to get the life I want, right now, today, and in the future. It made me realise that thought is fluid and that I can mould it the way I want to suit my day. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in search of a new professional career or for those who simply want a happier life. Thank You!
    Lucia Pohrebnyak

  • It took me about 5 years of 'dithering' before committing, and in that time I attended several introductory days from various training providers. David's accessible style and the unforced flow of the day is what persuaded me to choose his company. David provides a training model that helps you become your best self - as a student, as a practitioner, as a person. By 'best', I mean more open, less fearful, more confident, less judgemental - whether you attend the course to make a change personally or professionally, to build on existing success, or with no idea where it might go, simply because you are interested (that was me!) you will be impressed at what you are able to achieve with David's expert guidance showing you how to use your curiosity as a pathway to growth. In the first week following the course, I dealt with several potentially difficult situations both at work and home, coming from a changed perspective - resulting in no conflict, calmer colleagues, less stressed family. And this without actively using any techniques; the biggest change has been inside my own headspace. I can't wait to do the next course. Now that I know, unequivocally, the benefits to be had, I wish I had come down off the fence years ago! Added bonus, a bunch of fabulous new friends. And a final thought about cost; some of you reading this will be struggling to justify spending a chunk of hard earned money "just" for yourself. Well, I will be using these tools every day for the rest of my life - pennies a day investment! I am SO worth it. And so are you!
    Sue Bee

  • I first met David at an evening business club a couple of years ago. During his presentation something “clicked” with me and I felt compelled to further my understanding of NLP. I attended the Auspicium free trial day. My earlier feelings were confirmed. This guy knows what he’s talking about and has a passion for helping people. I duly signed up for the NLP and Hypnotherapy practitioner course. What a week. All in the class left in such high spirits with a very different outlook on life. Following on I have attended the NLP and Hypnotherapy Master Practitioner course. Again excellent. There was something about the Hypnotherapy element of the course that I loved so on to the Hypnotherapy Trainers Training (another absolutely brilliant week). All the courses that I have attended have been very well organised, have a great team of trainers and support volunteers. The documentation is well put together and the exercises are all structured to push yourself to show you have a grasp of the given subject. I now have a fantastic group of new friends who I have a deep link with. We still meet up when we can to catch up on what we are all doing. As of March this year I have been participating in the Auspicium Freedom Project. This is a yearlong “conversation” about the 3 Principles – Mind, Thought and Consciousness. It took me a while to “get” it but now just by “doing nothing” I find myself doing more with better results and no stress. There are no models or techniques to learn. We all have the Principles inside us. We just need to be woken up to how to use them. It’s a great journey that will take the rest of my life. David is a superb trainer and fully deserves all the praise he receives.
    Phillip Warris

  • Before going on David’s Practitioner course, I thought I knew what I wanted, where I was headed and how I was going to get it. All I wanted an additional skill to add to my portfolio. I thought my life was in reasonably good order, nothing that needed fixing. I can sum up my experience of working with David in two words: life-changing. Instead of just learning a new skill, David encouraged us to apply his teaching, our learning, to ourselves. In a very safe environment, I gradually dropped the barriers I had painstakingly built up over a long time. This change happened very quickly and I continued growing as a person, studying 2 more courses with David and joining him on the Freedom project. Why David? He is disarmingly honest, genuine and engaging. He has a very broad knowledge of human behaviour and passes his knowledge on with grace. As a result of working with David, I have changed, and my life has changed. In myself I am very happy and contented person. My marriage is better and stronger. My business plans have taken a different route - one that is exciting and feels very right for me.