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Old 07-15-2005, 12:20 AM   #1
"Jason B."
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Straight Face Sensei v. Student

I have been doing Aikido for several years. My Sensei is a great guy, and a really excellent teacher. We have an extremely small class, and all the members are like family. Whenever we get new practitioners in, we are usually very grateful and try our best to keep them interested.

However...(you knew it was too good to be true!)

Recently, there has been a new addition to our class, a teenage street punk who is being forced to attend class by his parents. He alternates a total lack of confidence with outright aggressiveness and sarcastic comments during lectures.

The majority of the class has sort of accepted him with a long-suffering grin and tries their best to help him out and sort of rehabilitate him. On the other hand, several of the other children refuse to practice with him. Worst of all, our teacher has taken an immediate dislike to this kid. He obviously cannot tell him to get out, and is too polite to confront the parents, but his sharp comments are really sort of grating our nerves.

Advice, anyone?

Jason
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Old 07-15-2005, 03:23 PM   #2
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
He obviously cannot tell him to get out
This isn't obvious to me. Why can't he tell him to get out?

Kentokuseisei
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Old 07-15-2005, 04:05 PM   #3
cserrit
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Your sensei needs to speak to the parents. They need to know that his behavior has been having a negative affect on the ability for others to learn within a safe environment.

He is probably the same way in school, but because it is summertime, parents need a place to "put him." He knows this and is not happy with it and as a result will make everyone as miserable as he feels (it sounds as though he had no choice...not many people would have fun with that situation).

After the discussion, then possibilities as to how he can work, learn and interact, in the classes, can be discussed to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone. If the parents or student cannot see this as a possibility, then an alternative activity may be recommend .

IMHO there are two roads that can be taken..
1. Continue working with him and support him in his efforts.
He may have been "thrown" into Aikido by his parents, but this
could be an opportunity for him to be embraced by a group
that is outside of the problems he may have at
home/school (ask the parents about any meds he might be
on. You have every right to know if he has emotional
prblms).

2. Decide if it is more important to create a safe, fun learning
environment for those who have shown an interest in pursuing
aikido in a positive manner rather than more putting up with
one disruptive student and possibly losing others than it is. In
that case, ask the parents to find another "babysitting service."

As a HS teacher I have done both things. Providing a safe learning environment for all of my students takes priority over the "hurt feelings" of one disruptive student that refuses to work with myself or within the learning community.

Good luck!



-C
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Old 07-15-2005, 04:18 PM   #4
aikidoc
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Re: Sensei v. Student

In the old days, there would be a designated person skilled in attitude adjusting. Unfortunately, we can't do that in this day and age. Perhaps you could just wear his a$$ out with a more senior student-sort of a subtle attitude adjustment.
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Old 07-15-2005, 06:07 PM   #5
"Jason B."
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Oh, sorry, maybe not so obvious. No one can outright tell him to get out (a) because some people believe that it is against Aiki spirit to blatantly reject anyone, and also because we're doing this as a state-funded activity although we are actually affiliated with an organization.

Also, we know that he has some behavioral learning problems, although I did not bring this up earlier as my main problem is the tension between Sensei and the student.

Thanks, everyone!

Jason
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Old 07-16-2005, 01:51 AM   #6
batemanb
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

I'm having a similar issue at the moment. I teach a kids class, two of my students (brother and sister, both early teens) have been in the class for more than a year. Started with the lad wanting to do it and dad making the sister attend (dad is in the senior class and one of my assistants in the juniors). Over the past year, the sister has changed her attitude a lot, and whilst still giving dad the "I don't want to do it" spiel, is keen to learn when practicing. The son has also changed a lot, whilst keen at first now doesn't want to do it anymore. The pair also have a growing "dislike" of each other which boiled over onto the mat last week. It was time to take them aside and have a "chat".

Whether they attend because they want to or not is not something I can control, but their behaviour on the mat is something that I have to control. My junior class is very mixed, the boy girl balance is about even, but the age range runs from 8 - 15 with 1 or 2 in each year bracket. Now I'm no expert in this, I only started the class a year and a half ago, and that's my sole experience working with juniors in Aikido, but if I don't check that sort of attitude, it is bound to affect the other students.

I don't know if the way I handled it was right, or will be succesful yet, it may take a few weeks, I may have to do/ say other things, rightly or wrongly. I can only play this by ear based on my experience of growing up, dealing with my parents, and my kids growing up. In general I try to play the logic game, being honest in the discussion, but laying down what I will and won't accept in the class.

I'm not asking for answers, here, just outlining that in my opinion, dealing with this kind of situation is my responsibility as I am responsible for the class. As has been posted above, I have to ensure that the rest of the class don't suffer, but at the same time I would still like to encourage these two to stay with Aikido.


rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 07-16-2005, 08:38 AM   #7
cserrit
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
Oh, sorry, maybe not so obvious. No one can outright tell him to get out (a) because some people believe that it is against Aiki spirit to blatantly reject anyone
-It sounds as though he is rejecting both his presence at the dojo and the people training there. That doesn't sound very Aiki.




Quote:
and also because we're doing this as a state-funded activity although we are actually affiliated with an organization.
- So?

Quote:
my main problem is the tension between Sensei and the student.
- It sounds like the problem is the tension is b/w the student and the everyone else (not just with your sensei) with you saying that other children will not work with him and the conflict he has with your sensei.

At some point, if this behavior continues, your sensei will need to have a discussion with the parents to decide if there are any options for him at your dojo (positive and negative). If they have shared the fact that the kid has behavioral problems...then they should have some information (usually given to them by the doctor) about strategies to modify his behavior.

I have been taught that Aikido is full of "ruthless compassion." It sounds like something like that may work here.

-C
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Old 07-16-2005, 11:51 AM   #8
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

We had a interesting experience that was sort of the same. We had a mother and daughter start to train with us. The mom's motives were to bond with her daughter and to have her daughter get some excercise. The daughter's motive was.....hmm I am still not sure. She made it clear did not want to be with us and showed it by rolling her eyes and and being generally hard to get along with. She was is her Goth phase so she did not want to wear a gi and had trouble taking off her safety pins. She was 15.

We really enjoyed her. She was quite sweet underneath all her posturing and eventually she wore a gi when one of the other women offered it to her. We treated her just like we treated everyone else and she rose to the occasion.

She trained with us for a few months and then her mom lost interest. So they both stopped.

Whenever I see the young woman she is glad to chat with me and seems like she enjoyed her time with us.

Mary
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Old 07-16-2005, 12:48 PM   #9
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

There is old saying from Himalaya:
If you beat a meat hard enough, it eventually becomes soft.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 07-16-2005, 01:25 PM   #10
batemanb
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
There is old saying from Himalaya:
If you beat a meat hard enough, it eventually becomes soft.
Made me chuckle. I'm not sure this is the forum though Szczepan..........

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 07-16-2005, 10:41 PM   #11
Randathamane
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
Recently, there has been a new addition to our class, a teenage street punk who is being forced to attend class by his parents. He alternates a total lack of confidence with outright aggressiveness and sarcastic comments during lectures.
I know this seems harsh- but put him in his place.

If he makes a silly sarcastic coment, tell him that as he knows so much and is all knowing, he can take the class. Sensei can sit down for 5 minuets and watch the arrogant one make an ass of himself as he fails to demonstrate one technique correctly. Once you have embarrassed him enough, remind him that seniors are in place (usually) for a good reason of earning their rank/ title/ grade or whatever.


"Iron has many impurities. Through Forging, it becomes a razor sharp sword- men develop in the same way".
i believe those are the words of O sensei....

Try it.

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Old 07-17-2005, 12:01 AM   #12
"Jason B."
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Ah, yes...the state-funded dojo issue comes into play because we can't boot him out of the class without a lot of explanations to the state about why we're getting rid of them. They probably wouldn't buy it anyway because by community standards, he's a decent kid.

But I admit, I am kind of avoiding such a direct option because I actually want the kid to stick around on the off-chance that he might eventually "see the light" and open up to Aikido, or at least be a little more compatible with the outside world. After all, given his street background, we could very well be a last chance.

Meanwhile, thanks, everyone!

Jason
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Old 07-17-2005, 08:54 AM   #13
Qatana
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Making a person leave because they have a behavioral disability is immoral and essentially illegal. And proabably quite detrimental to the person's future personal growth.
I've been there. I know.
And the one time my disability threatened to get the better of me in the dojo, instead of making me leave, or Allowing me to run away when I realised what I was doing, Sensei made me Stay, and I am grateful for that every single day.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-17-2005, 10:57 AM   #14
mj
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Re: Sensei v. Student

If his parents are forcing him to go no wonder he isn't happy.

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Old 07-18-2005, 03:45 AM   #15
Nick Simpson
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Re: Sensei v. Student

'Making a person leave because they have a behavioral disability is immoral and essentially illegal'

Making a person leave because they are a jerk isnt though.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 07-18-2005, 08:02 AM   #16
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Disclaimer: I have very mixed feelings about aikido classes for children. I do acknowledge that there are some fine programs for kids out there...but my own preference if I had kids of my own would be for them to do judo or wrestling.

On to the topic... I've seen one of my instructors lead kids classes quite a bit. He had a very good rappor with the kids, and I did see him really turn around many just by being patient. He did have to ban his own nephew though...the poor kid was just not ready for that environment, and at his size and strength he was too much to handle for the other kids. We tried him in the adult class, but instead of stepping up, he got completely intimidated, so it was time to just let him go (for then).

On the 'hit squad' idea, another teacher of mine had a problem person, very athletic, darn good physical technique, but way too brutal to other students. This student could take whatever anyone dished out, and come back for more. Stuff that would have broken me, he bounced back from...and that just made him worse with others, not better.

Sometimes the aiki solution is to let someone go...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 07-18-2005, 09:47 AM   #17
Mike Sigman
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Sometimes the aiki solution is to let someone go...
True, but that's only if "verbal Aikido" and passive-aggressive behavior don't work.

Mike
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Old 07-18-2005, 10:59 AM   #18
jonreading
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

!!??
To summarize this issue: This student is causing a hostile environment for the entire dojo. The question is should the student stay or go, and how should that decision be made.

1. Does the student cause a physically hostile environment? I believe that any student that presents a physical threat should be removed from the dojo. You reponsibility is to protect your dojo, not entertain a problem that threatens to hurt someone. As an instructor, it is irresponsible to expose your students to a dangerous environment.
2. If the students causes a emotionally or socially uncomfortable environment, the instructor needs to talk to the student and parents and explain what actions are creating the hostile environment. If those actions are not stopped, the student should not be invited to train.

It sounds as if your dojo is part of a state-supported program for troubled youth. If this is the case, you are about to understand why you get money and support to deal with these kinds of problems. I do not pretend to have phsycho-analysis experience, so I have no therapy to help develop the student if you cannot ask him/her to leave the dojo.

As for the social responsibility argument, I do not agree that we (aikido dojo) are required to pick up other people's trash as a social clinic for misfits. The socialization of this student is the responsibility of the parents and family. Your dojo is an outlet to train in budo for self-improvement. I think aikido is a great tool to help troubled individuals resolve their issues; it will only work if the individual wants to improve. Forcing the student to train aginst his/her will is not an acceptable solution to remedy "social disabilities."
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Old 07-18-2005, 12:50 PM   #19
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
Forcing the student to train aginst his/her will is not an acceptable solution to remedy "social disabilities."
I think this is the crux of the issue.

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 07-19-2005, 10:58 AM   #20
"Jason B."
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Someone said "It sounds as if your dojo is part of a state-supported program for troubled youth. If this is the case, you are about to understand why you get money and support to deal with these kinds of problems." (Sorry, folks, can't get the darn quote option to work.)

Erm, well, not exactly. No one is getting paid for teaching, by the state or anyone else. We aren't exactly there as part of the state's program, we simply practice at a state recreation facility because we don't have anywhere else. Naturally, we let people try out the class if they are curious, but we are not actively recruiting members.

On the other hand, I just got back from class, and the kid behaved himself fairly. Maybe he is very sloooowly improving. In the meantime, as always, thanks for you advice!

Jason
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Old 07-19-2005, 01:27 PM   #21
ElizabethCastor
 
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Re: Sensei v. Student

Quote:
[w]e can't boot him out of the class without a lot of explanations to the state about why we're getting rid of them. They probably wouldn't buy it anyway because by community standards, he's a decent kid.

But I admit, I am kind of avoiding such a direct option because I actually want the kid to stick around on the off-chance that he might eventually "see the light" and open up to Aikido,...
As a public school electives teacher, I can feel your frustration. I frequently have kids assigned to my class that have no drive to participate in the subject. Often their only "entertainment" is to be sarcastic and rude and make it difficult for the class to have its focus. Often, they are great students in other classes.

In my better moments, I try to be as understanding and supportive as possible. The ol' killing them with kindness technique. I let them know where I see strengths and personal growth. I try to be as positive as possible.

In a few cases, the positive outlook is hard or the kid doesn't accept it so...I approach these willful kids (12-14 years) and give them "the talk":
-->"How do you feel your class is going?"...
-->"Here's my view... Now, do you want to continue with your classmates?"...
(YES) "You can continue on with the class but only if X, X and X are met.
(NO) Hey, no prob., take a break, here are some books and literature for you to look through, you'll sit in X space. We'll meet again on X date.
(EITHER CASE) By the way, I'm telling mom and dad that this is OUR agreement."

I also let them know that this option is limited and then if it doesn't work, you're out. Then I stick to it.

Make it a little contract and that's your documentation of behavior for any raised eyebrows. Each time there's an issue or a complaint just jot it down.

It may just be an attention thing, especially if he is labeled with problems and he flip-flops between "lack of confidence and outright aggressiveness." But from your last post it sound like the Aiki-spirit is rubbing off and a little light is shinig through.
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:20 PM   #22
justin
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Re: Sensei v. Student

if i was you i would thank my lucky stars i dont have to teach them, and continue to train and concentrate on my own training not whats hapening around me, selfish as that may sound i step into the dojo to learn about the art myself and not what others can not be bothered to do, as long as teacher doesnt have a problem with you continue to learn and enjoy yourself.
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Old 07-21-2005, 08:07 PM   #23
malsmith
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Re: Sensei v. Student

in my dojo if people are making sarcastic comments during class they get to do lots and lots of push ups... and then they shut up eventually!

but only disrespectful sarcasm... i mean people make jokes and thats all good... but if its rude then there are definate consequences.

and my teacher will also talk to the parents if an attitude problem persists in kids/minors, which i think might help if the parents back him up.
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