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#373767 - 12/10/07 10:26 AM I earned it... you're WRONG!
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Over the weekend, some recent promotions came up in conversation(s). There are several hundred children in the various classes, different locations. The discussion concerned the adament, passionate protest of one student and another (different) parent, with several similar ~disagreements~ behind those. Issues which occur sometimes in teaching.

The conversations go something like this:

"...Sensei, why didn't Mary pass, she did good... really good..." [sic. are you stupid]

"...Johnny should have passed, he did FAR better than Tommy, and Tommy did pass..." [sic. are you blind]

"... Sarah came to every class, did everything you asked but you failed her by mistake..."

All kinds of variations of I/he/she earned promotion how could you not see my childs skill. I was curious have others encountered this kind of issue? What thoughts do you have on such conversations, sometimes erronious beliefs by students and their well intentioned parents?


#373768 - 12/10/07 04:23 PM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Ronin1966]
fileboy2002 Offline

Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 999
Loc: Chicago, IL
As a high school teacher, I see this all the time. People are often so fond of their kids and take such pride in everything they do they lose their objectivity. Interestly, I find this more true among affluent parents than less affluent ones. The more privilege people enjoy, the greater their sense of entitlement. I have actually had rich parents raise hell when I gave their kid a "B" rather than an "A." One mother I said needed to give her son an "A" because if I didn't, it would "ruin his future."

#373769 - 01/21/08 01:01 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: fileboy2002]
Itami Offline

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
When asked those questions it can seem you're put in a deep hole with no way out. Wouldn't it be great to put that person in a similar situation where their only option was to agree with you?

When dealing with confrontations it's always a good strategy to "pass the ball" back to the person. If they comment about how their kid was better than someone who passed, "pass the ball" back by saying something like,

"I want to hold Johnny to standards that will make him the best he can be, I know he has more potential he hasn't used yet. Don't you agree it would be wrong to hold Johnny to someone else's standards that won't make him the best he can be?"

Don't give them the option to disagree with you. It might take some practice, but it's worth it to avoid the headaches!

#373770 - 01/21/08 02:43 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Ronin1966]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
there was mention of 'planting seeds' in other threads recently...seeds don't always spring flowers - in this case, weeds.

you witnessed the seed that gets planted which often leads to the normalization of lowered standards. starts with the complaining parents in the kids class and spreads to the adults.
I first saw it starting around town in the mid 80's with the Martial Art generation I like to call the "TMNT generation" (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). This was the first real wave of kids taking up main street martial arts...and there was an explosion of franchising entraprenuers to cater that market.
What happened soon after was sortof the 'WalMart-effect'. Good dojos struggled to keep doors open while the superficial playgyms prospered. some of the good dojos packed up and moved away from downtown. some simply closed and vanished. many others comprimized things to compete for students. Hello big biziness, Good-bye mom-n-pop.

In that atmosphere, parents cease to be spectators of their child learning an art, and they instead realize they have choices - they become consumers....and the mindset changes accordingly. since they can just pull their lil guy out of your class and into a fred villari's down the street, they can make complaints and 'suggestions' to the teachers.
The most common is for parents to protect their child's ego. "What? someone who started the same day as my child passed their test and got their yellow-belt BEFORE my martial art prodigy?? see-ya."

Enter the concept of the martial arts contract. but the contract wasn't enough, so comprimizes needed to be made. now, tests are according to time. You become eligible to take a test in X amount of time or X amount of classes.

Sign the contract, pay the fee, do the time, get the belt. everyone is the same regardless of skill, effort, maturity, interest, motivation or ability.

thats not learning an art, it's engaging in an activity.

so, I've seen the progression thru the years and feel bad for the sensei trying to teach kids an art, but having to deal with consumer-minded parents who expect their child's ego catered to during your services as some kind of activity director or glorified playgym babysitter.

One of the things I have suggested in the past, is to try the elimination of the belt/grade system. just train with gi-pants and a dojo-logoed t-shirt/sweat-shirt. The only distinction would be either mudansha or yudansha (equivalent to the kyu/dan rank paradym).

I wonder what would happen?

#373771 - 01/21/08 03:05 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Ronin1966]
Zach_Zinn Offline

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
I actually had a lady get mad at me when I explained the chances of her kid being promoted were lessened if he could only be there half the time. She actually thought I should not take into account his attendance at all apparently.

In the short time I've been teaching this has been one of the most frusrating parts of teaching kids.

#373772 - 01/21/08 04:03 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Zach_Zinn]
General_Neo Offline

Registered: 11/19/07
Posts: 70
I think..the problem is that the parents get too involved in their childs MA is the student that is learning and performing their art..not the parent..

The Parents only want to see their child succeed and that is why they complain when they dont..They only realise all the good things..anything they do not so well..they will still see it as being good..if you see what i mean..

Take care,
Im not in this world to live up to your expectations and youre not in this world to live up to mine

#373773 - 01/21/08 11:18 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: General_Neo]
Itami Offline

Registered: 01/20/08
Posts: 14
I just realized you said there were -several hundred children- from different classes and locations.

I'm assuming that you don't directly teach them all most of the time, and there's probable some you either never taught or you don't know them. While the problem is still the same, I don't see much option other than either:
1. Giving in (I highly suggest against)
2. Come up with a really good explanation using whatever strategy you want to tell them, since you probably won't have the added argument strength of seeing lil' Johnny's progress (or lack of) in class all the time. If the explanation is sound enough and it fits everyone, you should be able to get by with that.

#373774 - 01/21/08 11:38 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Zach_Zinn]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Zach:

<<one of the most frustrating parts of teaching kids...

A little "tea" after class maybe???


#373775 - 01/21/08 11:44 AM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: General_Neo]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello general neo:

Received positively, done well... myself I hope that children & parents both look back fondly with positive memories of their time with us... regardless of its length or brevity.

Thanks for contributing,


#373776 - 01/21/08 12:01 PM Re: I earned it... you're WRONG! [Re: Itami]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Itami:

First, thank you for contributing. Heck out of their uniforms it sometimes takes me a while to remember adults I've known for a decent time. But, my question was more a curiousity, how others approach this odd phenomina? Ranking is obscenely subjective in some respects. Regardless of the approach testing board, paper rating, solo instructor decision... Little maryjane believes she gave her "best" effort, and that should be sufficent. Understandably her family wants her to be recognized. How do other instructors approach this meaningful quicksand?


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