Dr. Kwon shares how life experiences have shaped his teaching
Although many students find his demeanor intimidating and his teaching philosophy challenging, his compassionate personality comes out in an interview with The Lasso.
Kwon leaned back in his chair saying, “One thing I may say is that I’m from a different culture where education is considered very serious. Parents are willing to sacrifice themselves for their children’s education…. That’s why I push students, it’s my philosophy.” This philosophy first started as a child growing up in South Korea. Kwon’s father was a school teacher, so Kwon explains that it was natural for him to become an educator.
During his university years while studying natural sciences, Kwon started applying mechanics to one of his favorite sports, soccer. It just came naturally, he explained. During his senior year he found a class called biomechanics, Kwon says: “I knew what mechanics was, but bio?” After the first week of class, Kwon had decided that he wanted to study biomechanics for his master’s. He later earned his PhD with a specialization in biomechanics. This led Kwon into a position to mentor and teach students and junior colleagues.
In 1999, Kwon heard about the International Sports Biomechanics journal while at a conference. Kwon said: “I set a goal. In x number of years, I will be on the editorial board of the journal. And in x number of years, I was on track.” Kwon became the Editor of the journal in 2007. He uses that position to mentor his younger colleagues. He explains: “As you become more senior, then the goal is to be a mentor to younger colleagues.” When manuscripts written by students are sent in, Kwon provides valuable feedback to the authors as a way to help guide them in the right direction.
In 2009, Kwon started working in TWU’s Biomechanics Lab on golf swing research with the help of his graduate students. He explains: “Overall, the situation in the lab was quite favorable because we got the new Motion Capture System…, then we also had Chris Como, [Tiger Woods’ coach] aboard.” Chris Como was vital to the startup of Kwon’s research; with his connections, the lab was able to attract elite athletes for the studies. Kwon says that some of the research they have produced discredit what other golf practitioners once believed. He continued: “It’s really time to push evidence based practice, so that’s why one of my interest areas, at the moment, is instructor education.” In his six years of researching golf swings of elite golfers, Kwon can now say that he considers himself a golf biomechanics expert.
Kwon turns somber when asked about the fail rate of his undergraduate Biomechanics class. He truly cares about them; but he is put into a difficult situation. Biomechanics is one of the most challenging classes in the Kinesiology Department. Kwon notes that many of the same students who fail retake the class up to three times. He goes on to explain, “I believe in the importance of motivation. If you’re motivated, you always try to understand. But if you lack motivation, I can see that in the classroom. If you lack motivation, then no matter what happens, you will still fail”.
In the classroom, as well as in his professional life, Kwon applies his philosophy of the importance and seriousness of education. He says, “What I do in the classroom is all because of my philosophy and my training.”