Dagdha's Blog

Teaching

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on June 20, 2011

For almost two years now I have volunteered as an instructor at a martial arts studio, teaching Boxe Francaise Savate and Jeet Kune Do.  Initially I thought it would be an opportunity to ingratiate myself with the other instructors and provide a great learning and leadership experience.  A common colloquialism is that teachers always learn things twice, once for the first time and again when they instruct, which  I’ve always found to be true, so I accepted the position with excited anticipation.  Years later, however, the darker side of academic bureaucracy has reached its torrential apex, and I’ve lost any desire and the initial joy I once garnered from the experience.

You know that frustrating question that’s asked at 99% of job interviews: What’s your greatest weakness?  Mine is the inability to say “no” to people.  I don’t know if it’s because of how I was raised, or some innate flaw (at least by today’s societal standards), but I find it extremely difficult to turn people away when they ask for help, even if it’s to my own detriment.  Unfortunately, there are other kinds of people who will take as much as possible until they have to go elsewhere – these are “good” business people, and the owners of my studio.

When I first started teaching, I was an assistant for two kid’s Savate classes a week.  I had a lot of fun watching my young students jumping around, punching and kicking each other, and excitedly competing for my attention.  If anything, this is the biggest reason I’ve continued teaching for this long.

As I gained more experience, I eventually began running my own classes.  Initially I volunteered to help out with the promise of receiving my instructor certification, so I didn’t mind helping.  Over the weeks and months, and now years, though, more has been continually asked of me, served with a healthy dose of guilt if I ever declined.  At this point, I either teach or assist 7 classes a week, and I still receive no form of compensation.  Albeit I have never asked, but in large part due to the guilt I already receive.

Recently a lot has happened, and it has caused some serious reflection on my part as an instructor for the studio.  I’ve come to realize that I was much happier as just a student, without all the obligation.  I was driven by a passion to excel rather than an obligation to fulfill my duty.  Despite the joy I get from teaching – I really do love it – it has done more to hurt my overall happiness than the other way around.  Consequently, I have decided to stop teaching martial arts.

Unfortunately I know that this will affect a number of my students, as well as my relationships with some of the other instructors, but I feel like I need to look out for myself.  Life is short, and I’ve dedicated so much time to a studio that has repaid me with guilt and an unequal amount of effort.  The saddest part about my decision is that I feel it may result in my leaving the studio completely, but that will be up to the owners and whether or not they abide by what they teach.

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