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chitara 11-17-2011 03:00 PM

Aikido in Schools
 
....So I just had a meeting with my principal to discuss some "incredible new ideas" I had for next semester/ year. One of which was to bring 'The Philosophy of Aikido' to my school. Essentially, I proposed teaching Aikido and incorporating many of the books associated with the art, in all aspects. Thus creating a physical and philosophical class.

In preparation for this meeting I had searched for any High Schools in the US that had Aikido as a curriculum in their institution. I found none. I have to admit, I was rather excited to be THE template for US high schools in creating such a course, especially in this age of bullying and assault.

I felt with my Aikido background as yudansha and instructor, degrees in education, and always looking for a new challenge, I would be the perfect individual to create such a course. (At an all girl Catholic high school in Omaha)

When I shared how I was unable to find any school with my brilliant idea she was not surprised.

Evidently, in Omaha, the arch diocese frowns upon any form of spirituality being instructed outside of Catholicism. Aikido = Shinto/ Zen, Shinto/Zen = not Jesus ergo, no Aikido. (sigh)

Ok, that I could grasp, didn't agree, but we are regimented to our Bishop who is to the Pope.

But why haven't I been able to find any PUBLIC schools that offer Aikido as a curriculum. Her response:
Aikido = spirituality, spirituality = religion, ergo no Aikido. (REALLY?!?!)

So, let me get this straight......................I can't do anything involving Aikido as a curriculum in a Catholic environment because it talks about Asian Spirituality, and no public school will touch Aikido because it deals with spirituality?!?! And according to my administrator, it is a nightmare taboo topic. Spirituality in Public Schools.

I would hope am not the only one who is exasperated by this ridiculous frame of thought.

If there is anyone out there that knows of an Aikido course, in High School, I would love to hear from you. Not sure I am ready to acquiesce so easily.

Thanks!

phitruong 11-17-2011 03:30 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
don't use the word "spirituality". use the word "philosophy". think of it as Asian study, as in cultural, course.

kewms 11-17-2011 03:39 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
You're unlikely to find any sort of religion/spirituality in public schools in the US. That would fall under state promotion of a particular religion, which is strictly verboten. (Or at least adherents of other religions would see it that way, regardless of the actual content of the class.)

The only way to get something like that into the curriculum would be as literature, as anthropology, or as comparative religion, and all of those are much more college-level than high school-level topics.

Katherine

akiy 11-17-2011 03:50 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Hi folks,

Before this thread goes too far into the broader topic of religion in US schools, please keep the discussion in this thread explicitly pertinent to aikido. If you wish to move to a discussion with a larger scope, please start a new thread in the Open Discussions forum.

Thank you,

-- Jun

gregstec 11-17-2011 03:54 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
The problem may be with how you are presenting Aikido and what others consider what spirituality is. The below excerpt is from the Wikipedia on Spirituality

"Whilst the terms spirituality and religion both relate to a search for an Absolute or God, and thus have much overlap, there are also characteristic differences in their usage. Religion implies a particular faith tradition that includes acceptance of a metaphysical or supernatural reality;[8]:22, whereas spirituality is not necessarily bound to any particular religious tradition. Thus William Irwin Thompson suggest that "religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization."[citation needed]

Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as "spiritual but not religious" and generally believe in the existence of different "spiritual paths," emphasizing the importance of finding one's own individual path to spirituality. According to one poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[11]


Even though Aikido may have some spirituality meaning to you, don't present it that way. Aikido is a martial art and presents the benefits of physical activity as well as social aspects of peaceful conflict resolution with certain forms of contentions. :)

Greg

Michael Hackett 11-17-2011 06:35 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Phi is right on the money with his advice. There is no reason to run afoul of the diocese or the anti-establishment clause while teaching aikido. You might use some Terry Dobson or Richard Heckler material to present your program. Heckler had a similar problem when teaching aikido to the military as I recall. Of course your own views of the spirituality of aikido are critical to this debate and your presentation. Some aikidoka see the art as a spiritual pursuit almost to the point of a religious fervor, while some of us are complete heathens, with many somewhere in between. Where you personally fit on that scale will be telling in your pursuit. Be true to yourself above all.

Janet Rosen 11-17-2011 07:19 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Quote:

Katherine Derbyshire wrote: (Post 297316)
You're unlikely to find any sort of religion/spirituality in public schools in the US. That would fall under state promotion of a particular religion, which is strictly verboten. (Or at least adherents of other religions would see it that way, regardless of the actual content of the class.)

The only way to get something like that into the curriculum would be as literature, as anthropology, or as comparative religion, and all of those are much more college-level than high school-level topics.

Katherine

I think presenting it as cultural rather than spiritual would fly. And ok at high school level in a school with a solid academic college-prep focus - in my Jr yr at HS I had an English class called Traditions that included Greek and Roman mythology and some Old Testament among other things, specifically presented as literature.

lbb 11-17-2011 08:11 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
I'd say, since you've tried the spiritual angle and been turned down, it won't fly if you come back and say, "Okay, how about if I teach this course about aikido, the physical and philosophical martial art?" They're onto you now.

Richard Stevens 11-18-2011 06:45 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
I've been to a few Japanese schools that include Aikido as part of their "physical education" programs. However, as far as I know, actual physical/technical development was the goal, not the spiritual. They seemed to be treated more like Judo programs (sport).

It may have been a mistake to present Aikido as a physical and spiritual pursuit, especially in a country that is so uptight about religion. You could always present your idea as a type of physical education (like a Judo program) and let the spiritual aspect occur organically. However, Mary mentioned, they are probably onto you now.

This is one of the things about Japan I miss for my son. I had the opportunity to go to a Japanese elementary school that included both Judo and Kendo as part of their physical education programs. I chose Judo and loved every minute of it. The only martial arts opportunities around here for a kiddo are McDojo TKD and Karate.

genin 11-18-2011 07:04 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
If you pursue this as something philosophical and spiritual, then that will conflict and compete with the Catholic agenda. They won't embrace something that undermines their vested interests.

As far as public schools are concerned, I think all it would take is one bad apple using wrist locks on kids outside of class and then the whole program would be shut down.

tlk52 11-18-2011 07:09 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
I'm director of a small non-profit that does performing arts programs in the NYC public schools and we've had several short introductory aikido programs (10-12 sessions), mostly very successful.

I do agree that in order to do this we've had to stress the physical, cultural, and philosophical aspects. But then there's no agreement on what is meant by the "spiritual" aspects anyway.

we've even had to remove some holiday songs from music programs because of religious content... that's just the world we live in. while sometimes it gets carried to ridicules extremes, I personally prefer that to the alternative ie state sponsorship of religion etc...

Mark Freeman 11-18-2011 07:09 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Quote:

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 297336)
I'd say, since you've tried the spiritual angle and been turned down, it won't fly if you come back and say, "Okay, how about if I teach this course about aikido, the physical and philosophical martial art?" They're onto you now.

I agree with you Mary.

My own approach would be to promote it as a mind / body co-ordination practice.

But once they are on to you, I don't think it matters any more.

regards,

Mark

Demetrio Cereijo 11-18-2011 07:26 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Quote:

Claudia Brown Jackman wrote: (Post 297310)
....So I just had a meeting with my principal to discuss some "incredible new ideas" I had for next semester/ year. One of which was to bring 'The Philosophy of Aikido' to my school. Essentially, I proposed teaching Aikido and incorporating many of the books associated with the art, in all aspects. Thus creating a physical and philosophical class.

If you don't mind, which were the books you planned to use?

Lyle Laizure 11-18-2011 03:20 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
I have been teaching Aikido in the Omaha Public Schools for several years now, as part of their after school program. This being in primary and secondary grades. I have never had an issue with spirituality or religion. I conduct my classes there the same as I do at my own dojo. While the after school program isn't something the child is "graded" on I did introduce testing this year. Students will be able to "rank" in Aikido provided they able to demonstrate the techniques and have understanding of very basic Japanese language and ettiquette.

Migas 11-19-2011 08:04 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
I agree with those members who said you should present it as a physical activity or sports

DarkShodan 11-22-2011 08:10 AM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
This is being presented as a credited course in the school, like PE, math or science, not an after school program. Extra curricular activities at public schools are given a little more flexibility. Chitara also teaches an after school program, Lifeskills 101. Everything from changing a tire to self defense and aikido. Because it is after school and not directly called "Aikido" the school allows it. There are ways to get around it of course. It would be great to get an "Aikido" course accredited by a public/private school. Keep working at it Chitara!

Lyle Laizure 11-22-2011 03:57 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Quote:

Lloyd McWhirt wrote: (Post 297769)
This is being presented as a credited course in the school, like PE, math or science, not an after school program.

I understood the OP. Spirituality isn't going to be an accepted term even if it represents something other than a religious view as it elicits a religious mindset. Philosophy, as someone else mentioned would be a better choice of words. I would think that if she could get an official to watch a few practices and she has a specific curriculum to present it would go a long way in showing the establishment that what she was teaching wasn't religion oriented.

jlbrewer 11-22-2011 05:53 PM

Re: Aikido in Schools
 
Claudia, my sensei teaches a 1-credit Aikido course at the local community college (teaching science there is his day job). (It's not high school, but most community colleges are also publicly funded to some degree.) He doesn't post here but would you be interested in getting in touch with him?


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