Chihiro Nakao: An Amazing Teacher

nakao_kaizenI, along with two other colleagues, are working on a small but highly informative book tentatively titled Kaizen Forever: The Teachings of Chihiro Nakao. Look for the book in the second half of 2015. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some thoughts on Chihiro Nakao, founder of the famous kaizen consulting company, Shingijutsu, and his remarkable abilities as a teacher.

First, I’d like you to understand my frame of reference. I am a professional teacher. I have taught full-time in higher education since 1999. Prior to that, I worked in industry for 15 years. During the years I was a manager, I understood my role to be a teacher in addition to being a manager (a view not shared by my bosses or peers). Like everyone else, I have had both good and bad teachers in grades K-12, and exposed to many more teachers as a student pursuing my bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees. I also pioneered a new teaching pedagogy called Lean teaching. So, I have a lot of experience related to teaching and how to improve teaching. I want to tell you why Chihiro Nakao is the best teacher I have ever come across in education or in industry.

Many teachers are dedicated, but few teachers are so dedicated as to fly around the world almost every week for more than 27 years.

Many teachers are optimists, but few teachers have the boundless optimism that Nakao-san has.

Many teachers are have faith in humanity, but few teachers have as deep a faith in humanity as Nakao-san.

Many teachers have energy, but few teachers have the kind of energy Nakao-san has. At age 74, he can easily wear out younger people.

Many teachers are enthusiastic about the subject matter, but few teachers have such great enthusiasm for more than five decades.

Many teachers are passionate, but few teachers have such passion as I have seen in Nakao-san.

Many teachers are kind and helpful, but few teachers exhibit the human touch as Nakao-san does.

Many teachers have a good teaching method, but sensei Nakao’s teaching method is magnificent and changes people’s lives.

Many teachers know facts within a given discipline, but few teachers know facts spanning many disciplines, how they are interconnected to one another, and also how that plays out in the real world.

Many teachers make you think, but no teacher makes you think and shatters your preconceptions as Nakao-san does.

Chihiro Nakao is an extraordinary teacher. So, when he talks, I listen and I take notes. I take lots and lots of notes, and I reflect on my notes because they help me be a better teacher to my students in school and outside of school, and to the people who read my books and other writings.

If you have had the good fortune to experience Mr. Nakao as your sensei, or to have shadowed him for a period of time, but did not learn from him, then you somehow missed one of life’s greatest opportunities.

I feel very fortunate because few, if any, professional teachers, whether in primary, secondary, or post-secondary education, have been taught by such a great teacher and can also comprehend the reasons for his greatness.

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