What do people think about teaching aikido to children? Although I've seen many people supporting children's classes, I have also heard arguments that children do not have the discpline to properly learn aikido or any other budo in a very serious manner.
What do you think?
You know, I have been asked to help several times in the children's class in our dojo.
It has been a long time since I have felt that helpless! I discovered something new, which is that children intimidate me. I try to talk to them like I would another rational adult... and they are neither. I haven't learned yet how to talk with them and understand their needs.
The instructor for the class happens to be a junior high teacher, with three sons of his own, and HE has it entirely figured out. He has their attention, senses when it starts to wander, knows when to discipline and when to overlook misbehaviours.
I wanted to mention this because I have come to think that the ability to teach children is special. While I think everyone likely can learn how to teach children, I think it IS something you need to learn, it is not automatic.
Second, Adrian is so right about the boy versus girl issue. It is not in your head -- it is all too real! The boys, especially between 7 and 12, can be highly erratic.
All that said, last night I was in new found awe of the children's class instructor. He has been teaching them of all things a jo kata... and they are exceptionally attentive -- no wiggles or wanderings, but solidly fixed attention. When I first heard he was going to do this, I thought it was nuts... they would end up bonking each other. Not the case at all. It reminded me of Kensho Furuya pointing out that training with a live blade heightens your awareness of life/death, and provided a better training. Maybe even in the 8 year old, the fact that you could really bonk yourself or someone else makes a big difference.
Time for me to pull out my jo...