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Old 04-09-2003, 11:55 AM   #12
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
Re: Children who don't want to learn

Liane Guillou (Kung Fu Liane) wrote:
...there seem to be a lot of younger members (between 8 and 11) who just don't seem to want to learn anything. they mess about more than they train, are disrespectful to the seniors, and rarely even listen to the teacher...

does anyone have any suggestions as to how we could better structure classes?

i feel that it would be unfair to exclude young people from training, as we do have a few very dedicated younger members, but on the other hand, it seems like a huge struggle to fight the rude and apathetic students.
From my own experience, you need communicate to students purpose--learning-- consistently and secure parental cooperation--if students play, they're out. This shouldn't affect the serious ones and the example may straighten out the others. Often, the problem is the teacher,though, and not the students.

When I started karate, there were no kids classes. They let me in early, 11, as their beginning age was 12. Before going in, my father explained to me gravely that karate was dangerous and there would be no time for play. If I acted like a kid, I was out. I never played. I was more serious than most of the adults and loved it. There were no games, and had there been, I would have been offended.

When I started teaching (high school English in Japan), I forgot this and tried to entertain. Classes were a disaster. I quickly began focusing on discipline, a common mistake of freshmen teachers. A teaching supervisor in my MA-teaching program quickly set me straight: Focus on learning and direct the kids to that.

There is no panacea, you will still have unruly kids, but the teachers' intent will improve class atmosphere and learning immeasurably. Beyond this, there are other factors, of course. In Japan, my class consisted of up to 59 students--a PhD study found that most teachers found 42 to be the cut off point for manageability, so logistics may have an impact on your situation, too.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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