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Old 08-01-2008, 08:01 AM   #51
Nick P.
 
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Daniel Blanco wrote: View Post
The rank system is in place for a REASON,
Agreed. So why did the head instructor choose to exercise their own judgment and not follow it so closely? The reasons for doing so must have outweighed the reasons for sticking with it.

If we take a 5th kyu student with one year of training and promote them to shodan, does anyone really believe they are further along in their training than the 1st kyu with 6 years of training (all things being equal, not some prodigy vs. less-than-average student)? Yes, the new shodan is now higher in rank, but both those students, and everyone who trains with either of them, would know where they each are on their paths.

Rank is important, and it is of no, little or questionable value at the same time.

Demote me back to unranked-kyu from my current nidan, and nothing really changes in my technique or training. No rank or title takes away, or adds, to my abilities.

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Old 08-01-2008, 12:49 PM   #52
heathererandolph
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Re: Instructors of low rank

It would be best to treat the instructor with the same respect as you would any other instructor. It's only human to be disappointed, but if you are ever in his shoes you'll appreciate it if the students are watching you show a technique and are excited about being called to uki. If you set a great example for the other students to follow, then you will show a lot of maturity.

I'm not sure why your instructor would have chosen to have a lower level person lead the class. Surely this person has his/her work cut out for them as black belts, not to mention higher ranking black belts, are in the class and will be more judgemental than a class of lower belts!
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:59 PM   #53
lifeafter2am
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Daniel Blanco wrote: View Post
The rank system is in place for a REASON,
What about people who don't want to test? They don't have anything to teach any of us?

"The mind is everything. What you think you become." - Siddhattha Gotama Buddha
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:01 PM   #54
Zach Trent
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Excuse me if I misunderstand, but aren't we talking about an instructor asking someone to teach one class for a special occassion vs. giving a regular time slot to a low ranking student?

Those seem like very different situations. As a non-kyu holding student I would feel a little odd about taking a set class from someone one belt above me when there are higher ranks in the dojo....

But if I knew it was just one class, a special occassion, I would probably have a lot of fun with it- especially if it were a nine year old! That sounds like an incredible way to prepare for testing- I think it is a wonderful idea.

But giving that nine- year old one of your regular scheduled classes..wouldn't that be a bit awkward for the other students?

Though, if I were learning a whole lot from said class- I hope I could overlook the rank difference! I guess if they were just uber awesome I could overlook it- tough to say when you consider ego, dojo norms and ettiquette, and Sensei's goals/reasons. Though, if I were perfect, ego and Sensei's reasons would not be an issue at all.

This is a challenging scenario for me to think about, personally. Though the beer makes a lot of sense!
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:40 PM   #55
RoyK
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Joe McParland wrote: View Post
You can stand on your head right now, right where you are!

... or you can want to stand on you head and be aggravated that you shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't be allowed to, or whatever else.

But if you find for whatever the reason that this isn't the time or place to stand on your head, then is it really worth the aggravation to dwell on wanting to be in a situation other than the one you are in?

If that's the practice that day, then that's the practice. Are you in or out? If you want to know why it was that way, then chat with the boss who created the situation. The conversation will likely be more refreshing than carrying around the question and the resentment.
I chose to join the class rather than miss practice, yes. If I had known what was in store for me I probably wouldn't have, but leaving mid-class didn't really feel proper for me to do even though I felt like it's time wasted. I was further aggravated by the fact that he insulted me twice in front of the class, so I suppose not dwelling on the fact that I could be home doing something fun instead of having a crappy time on the mat was hard to do. Keeping a straight face was enough of a struggle.

However, despite this lousy experience, I don't see why lower ranked students shouldn't give class, as long as they stick to something everyone's familiar with and not try to invent the wheel on the spot. I think it'd be even better if the head instructor would tell them that.
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:55 PM   #56
lifeafter2am
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote: View Post
I chose to join the class rather than miss practice, yes. If I had known what was in store for me I probably wouldn't have, but leaving mid-class didn't really feel proper for me to do even though I felt like it's time wasted. I was further aggravated by the fact that he insulted me twice in front of the class, so I suppose not dwelling on the fact that I could be home doing something fun instead of having a crappy time on the mat was hard to do. Keeping a straight face was enough of a struggle.

However, despite this lousy experience, I don't see why lower ranked students shouldn't give class, as long as they stick to something everyone's familiar with and not try to invent the wheel on the spot. I think it'd be even better if the head instructor would tell them that.
Well said right there, well said!


"The mind is everything. What you think you become." - Siddhattha Gotama Buddha
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:53 PM   #57
Joe McParland
 
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote: View Post
However, despite this lousy experience, I don't see why lower ranked students shouldn't give class, as long as they stick to something everyone's familiar with and not try to invent the wheel on the spot. I think it'd be even better if the head instructor would tell them that.
Quote:
Andrew Hanson wrote: View Post
Well said right there, well said!
Well said or tongue well held---what is the difference?

The issue of dealing with your circumstances---including what you think should be, shouldn't be, could be, couldn't be, should have been, could have been, and so forth---is larger than this one case. It's everyday life for everyone, and people have thought about these situations for a long, long time.

Here's a koan that struck me as similar to where you are now:

Quote:
Fifth Gate: Hyang Eom's Up A Tree

Master Hyang Eom said, "It is like a man up a tree who is hanging from a branch by his teeth; his hands cannot grasp a bough, his feet cannot touch the tree; he is tied and bound. Another man under the tree asks him, 'Why did Bodhidharma come to China?' If he does not answer, he evades his duty and will be killed. If he answers, he will lose his life.

1. If you are in the tree, how do you stay alive?

http://www.kwanumzen.org/misc/12gates.html
Sounds corny maybe, but does it sound familiar?

For me, the dojo---and aikido in particular, since that's my bent---is a good place to examine these things, and---if you're very lucky---a skillful teacher may force you to face them.

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Old 08-02-2008, 06:58 AM   #58
Mark Uttech
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Daniel Blanco wrote: View Post
The rank system is in place for a REASON,
Onegaishimasu. So if a 5th kyu teaches an awful class, is there a ripple in the reason?

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 08-02-2008, 11:16 AM   #59
Bryan Sproles
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Re: Instructors of low rank

I had something similar happen to me during my JuJitsu training. We had multiple white belts on the mat that day, and I was the ranking student at Gokyu (2 belts up from white.)

Our sensei needed to leave and would return, but he told me that until he returned, I was the one in charge. Not long after we started the lesson (I love shiho nage, so I began with that), one of our purple belts came in, but he was fine with me being in charge - just kinda fell in to what we were doing without making a huge fuss about it.

I would say that the only time it might be unwise to allow a lower ranking student to lead the class is if he or she is truly still a beginner - a student who still may not be confident enough in their ability to be able to show a technique because that can lead to injuries.

-Bryan
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:18 PM   #60
Keith Larman
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Geez I'm beginning to think that I just don't take every second of my training nearly seriously enough. I mean, wow, one whole class that didn't result in any major revelations. I'm surprised I didn't catch the story on CNN... Lord, I'm sure glad the planet didn't stop revolving at that very moment of destruction of the cosmic balance! In the next few decades of training I fully expect to attend some classes that just weren't all that great. Hopefully I will be able to find the strength to go on after the devastation of having wasted maybe 1/10th of 1% of my total training time in my lifetime. Hopefully I can find it in myself to focus on the 99.9% of the rest of my training instead.

Seriously, I've had a couple times I've come home after a class where what I learned was that I have a difference of opinion as how to do a technique. Or that maybe that instructor is just not the instructor for me. But hey, if it's just a rare event, big deal... There's always something to learn.

If the instruction level is consistently poor then why attend at all? If it was a one-time or very rare thing, what's the deal with focusing on something minor like that. Get back on the mat and train some more.

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Old 08-02-2008, 12:25 PM   #61
Janet Rosen
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Re: Instructors of low rank

The original poster did mention that the lower ranked person had been put into the position of teaching because s/he is at least reliable: able to show up consistently.
It struck me that perhaps that is the point the sensei is trying to make? :How is it that apparently the class day/time seems to work well enough that enough folks show up for the class, yet no senior student is able and willing to make the necessary time and energy committment to show up and teach? If it takes a "lowly" lower kyu student to demonstrate that committment, the class is his to teach.
I realize I'm speculating on less than full information but wanted to share this as another possibility.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:23 PM   #62
giriasis
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Re: Instructors of low rank

I am going to agree with Janet. I think your sensei is trying to make a point about reliability. He knows the 5th kyu will show up so he asks the 5th kyu to teach.

As far as etiquette is concerned here are a few situations I have been in.

First example:

Sensei can't make it that day and calls the dojo. The highest rank on the mat at the time that Sensei calls is a 3rd kyu. He asks 3rd kyu to teach. I was currently ranked 1st kyu at the time, I show up about 25 minutes into class, 3rd kyu asks me if I want to teach, I say, "no, you already started class so please go ahead and finish."

Second example:

Sensei is out sick and had made arrangment for instructors while he is out. Each of us dans and some kyus, are given a time slot to fill in for sensei while he is out sick. Saturday second class, it appears that the instructor is not showing. All the dans stand around and ask each other who will fill in. I volunteer. Right at the time when class is supposed to begin, the selected instructor, a 2nd kyu, shows up. He says, "oh no, you're higher rank, why don't you go ahead and teach. I say, "no, since sensei asked for you to teach you teach." 2nd kyu proceeds to teach.

Third example (just happened today):

I was asked by sensei earlier this week to teach the 2nd class on Saturday. I'm a freshly minted 1st dan. 2nd dan of about 3-4 years shows up. Awkward that I would be teaching a sempai, I ask him to teach. He says, "no, sensei asked you to teach. I showed to take class and train. Please teach." I proceed to teach.

In each of these instances, someone lower ranking was requested by sensei to teach. Each lower ranking person requests that the higher ranking person teach in order to defer to higher rank. However, higher rank person defers to sensei who selected the lower ranked instructor and tells lower ranked person to go ahead and teach.

So the rule in our dojo is if sensei doesn't show up and does not select someone to fill in for him -- The Highest Rank Teaches.

However,

If someone is selected by sensei, that person teaches regardless of who else is higher ranking. Most of the time the lower ranking person will ask the higher ranking to teach, but the higher ranking person still should respect sensei's request and tell the lower ranking person to teach.

That's it. It's nothing personal and no questions asked. Pretty much sensei will ask people to fill in certain classes, he starts from the highest ranking and goes down the list and also considers who might be there that day. In the 1st situation, I was never really reliable to show up on time and on a regular basis enough to be considered to teach. It was nothing personal and the 3rd kyu taught a great class.

If it really bothers you that much you need to talk to your sensei about it in private, but don't just complain come up with some solutions, i.e. offer to help create a list of all the higher ranking folks who would be willing teach and the times they would be available to teach.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:33 PM   #63
Keith Larman
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Let me give an "amen" to Janet's post. In our dojo we always have an assistant in class. But getting anyone in the yudansha rank to commit to assisting a class seems to be like asking people to pull their own teeth with pliers. But sometimes the enthusiastic kyu ranked student will commit, will be there, and will be a reliable presence. How is it that some of those lower ranked students always seem to have more time to commit to things?

Years ago I was put into the same position fwiw. I was assisting in a kids class then teaching the next class which was advanced kids. The sensei who was to teach the third class, our most advanced adults class warned me that he might not be able to make it. He explicitly told me to teach the advanced adults class should he not make it. I was in the yudansha level, but I was still hesitant to say the least since most of the people who attended back then outranked me considerably. His comment was something along the lines of if they can't make the time to be there regularly they shouldn't be teaching the class. Fortunately for me and my stress level I didn't have to do it. But over the years I've come to understand what he meant very well.

And I've assigned one of my yonkyu the task of teaching a technique next week. I have two goals. The first is to have him think about and prepare to teach -- it is always a learning experience trying to teach something. The second goal is to see how the other students deal with it. Will they show appropriate respect to their sensei (me) and their fellow student (and sempai) to practice earnestly and with sincerity.

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Old 08-03-2008, 12:51 AM   #64
Rafael Martinez
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Re: Instructors of low rank

In our dojo we have a simple etiquette for this situation. First you must understand that the chief instructor asked a specific person to teach. He or she must have a reason for doing so. Whatever the reason all students should respect that decision. So on the day of the class if a higher ranking student arrives the lower rank out of courtesy will ask the senior ranking student to teach. The proper response from the higher ranking student is to decline. This acknowledges solidarity with the chief instructor and promotes harmony within the dojo, the forms have been followed. We also make it a point to only ask the senior most student. This offer is only made to one person for that day. Otherwise we would be working our way down the line.
Finally, it is understood that if the senior student decides to take the class he will have to answer to the chief instructor and explain why he went against his directive.
I hope this helps.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:49 AM   #65
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Instructors of low rank

All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:04 AM   #66
Nick P.
 
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
...but who are you prepared to say that to? The chief instructor in your dojo who chose the 5th kyu, everyone in the room on that given day?

If I heard those words uttered from anyone, regardless of rank, I am ashamed to admit I would be stunned at just how arragont (or ignorant) that person is.
But perhaps that is just me....

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Old 08-03-2008, 08:08 AM   #67
Mark Uttech
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Onegaishimasu. I believe it was Koichi Tohei who once said: "what you learn today you can teach tomorrow."

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 08-03-2008, 11:04 AM   #68
Niadh
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
Why?
Sensei says teach.
Teach
IDK what rank you are. if asked to teach, teach, if not asked.
SHUT UP AND TRAIN

Non Satis Scire
Niadh Feathers
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:38 PM   #69
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Instructors of low rank

For those who don't shut up and train: Kanshi.

That's all.

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Old 08-04-2008, 03:39 AM   #70
Walter Martindale
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
Well... Others have said - if sensei says teach, teach...

The gokyu can go through a bunch of basics (to the level he or she knows). The senior students can practice these basics at their level, the junior students can practice at their level. The gokyu leading the class can learn from teaching and observing the difference between the seniors and the juniors, and everybody gets ahead.

Just my $NZ0.02
Walter
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:11 AM   #71
Zolley
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
I think there can be a good reason for asking a 5th kyu to teach the class.

When we were 5th kyu Sensei once said at the end of a training: "...and people with 5th kyu should start thinking about how they would teach the class." Within a couple of weeks, suddenly, all 5th kyus started to remember all the techniques' and their versions' names and what the base steps were called, what we needed to be aware of in order to roll nicely, etc.. We got never called out to teach a class but we could as well do it, because we thought about it, that was sensei's teaching for the 5th kyus.

If the lower rank student who teaches the class insults you (the higher rank aikidoka) then sensei will hopefully hear about it and draw the appropriate conclusions regarding that student's (self-)development.

Best,
Zolley

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Old 08-04-2008, 08:39 AM   #72
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Quote:
Dieter Haffner wrote: View Post
All great posts.
But still, a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
If my teacher would ask a 5th kuy to lead class, I would be glad for her to get the opportunity and support her in every way I can.
It would be interesting to see how he sees and thinks about certain techniques.
In fact, I am planning to let the students teach a technique they favor the next time I substitude (if the teacher agrees with it). Don't tell them yet, it needs to stay a surprise.

But to have a 5th kuy fall in, every time the instuctor can't make it, and when higher ranked people are present, is a bad idea IMHO.
The aikido initiator course (teaching children and beginners up to 4th kuy), regulated by the governement, requires at least 1st kuy. So you might say that a 5th kuy does not have enough luggage yet to be teaching it peers.

Now you might say:
- "But the 5th kuy is a very talented student that might turn out to be a great teacher one day.". Sure, but the instuctor should be present for support and adjustments when needed. But don't leave him alone in class.
- "But that 5th kuy is a 3rd dan in this other art". Sure, but tell him to teach some stuff of his own art (maybe something he thinks relates to aikido).
- "But teacher said so". Sure, but ask yourself (as a higher rank) what the reason that the teacher picks this lower rank over you. Then try to do something about it, not for yourself or your ego, but for the club.

When a 5th kuy is the first substitute for a class (when higher ranked students are present), there is/could be something wrong with the class/dojo.
Maybe the class hours fall really bad so that it is hard to be in class every time. Maybe some rescheduling is in place?
Maybe the 5th kuy is the best aikidoist/teacher the instructor has. But then the instructor should start to think why all these other students are not good enough.
Maybe the 5th kuy is the only person that is commited enough. If the sempai's can't catch the clue, the instructor should have a talk with them.

I do not pick on lower ranks (we all were lower ranks and still are lower ranks to many), but if you need to rely on the lower ranks, it might be time to think a few things over about your dojo.
Because after all ...
Quote:
...a 5th kuy should not be teaching class.
Another thought:
Although "Shut up and train!" is a good answer.
Sometimes, as a sempai, you need to "Speak up and train even harder!". And not for your ego, but for the best of the club and trainer.

I hope this clarifies my previous post.
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:27 AM   #73
happysod
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Re: Instructors of low rank

I'm off with the beer brigade I'm afraid...

I can see the benefits of having a lower kyu grade take the class if the instructor is there to monitor things - we give most of our kyu grades teaching practice before black belt.

However, if a low-grade kyu was consistently taking the class when there were higher grades present, unless they were a long term grade-dodger I'd wander off politely.

My time to train is, like most, limited and I don't consider being trained by a kyu grade on a regular basis a good use of it.

[insert badly translated smug admonishment here]
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Old 08-05-2008, 02:25 PM   #74
Basia Halliop
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Part of the answer probably has to do with the difference between leading a class and teaching a class - not the same. In one case the person leading simply leads the warmups then demonstrates what techniques the class will practice in what order. In the other case the person teaching actually tries to communicate to the class how to do each technique, points out relevent steps and details, corrects those who make mistakes... not the same thing and which is more appropriate depends more on technical expertise than on anything else I can think of.
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Old 08-05-2008, 02:36 PM   #75
Marc Abrams
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Re: Instructors of low rank

Teaching: Sharing with others with what we have learned from others along with our life experiences.

Learning: Opening ourselves up to experiencing something offered from somebody else, or a life experience.

I think that we all should be open to be able both teach and learn. Rank is not a requirement for either thing to occur. We should be open to learning from somebody with any rank (learning from positive, neutral or negative experiences) at the same time as being able to share with a person of any rank, what we have gained to date.

People get too caught up in rank, organizations, hierarchies, ..... for all of the wrong reasons. This situation usually stifles ones ability to learn from experiences.

Marc Abrams
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