Thursday, February 26, 2009
Back To School; And Hat Tip To Pat At Mokuren Dojo
In an interesting turn of events, I have been asked by our local rural High School to help teach a physical education class. This will be a short series, four Friday classes on Tai Chi as part of a "Fit for life" program.
This is not the first time the school has asked for my contribution, I gave a talk to a civics class on "The Freedom of Information Act", and how to file requests for information with a Government agency.
Now here is where I find myself having to really re-think my teaching approach:
Several months ago I had a Blog discourse with Patrick Parker over at Mokuren Dojo. Pat's discussion about how to teach kids a calming meditation technique without calling it "meditation" was at issue. His point was that in the deep south of Mississippi parents would pull their kids out of his Dojo if he was to teach anything close to "meditation". This was obviously due to deeply held religious values and suspicion of eastern concepts. I was critical, in a polite way, and I chastised the ommision of "eastern thought".
Well, now I have to chew on a very small corner of my hat, and acknowledge that this is a difficult issue to approach with other people's kids in a public school.
I have not been cautioned against any form of presentation, but I am going to practice a form of self-censorship.
In my written and oral presentation, I will describe practicing the Tai Chi Chuan form as providing three benifits: Quiet introspection, a unique exercise, and a practice based on ancient Chinese martial arts that can improve ones ability in other sports.
The two issues that I must tread lightly on in public school are meditation and martial art. That almost guts what my normal presentation is to other students who attend my Thursday evening TCC class. No concept of "Chi", Taoist philosophy, even fighting skills. Public High School is not the place to approach anything resembling fighting skills, so this is going to be an interesting series of classes for me to teach. I do however, think it will be possible to bring in another adult student at the end of the last class and do a demonstration that will include some push hands and self-defense applications, just for the students to view and to further inspire. There may be a few students that will want to research and pursue these other issues on their own, and hopefully have a more complete understanding of the art. I should also say there is a yoga instructor in another class at the school that is taking a similar approach.
-- So Patrick, I owe you a partial apology because, at least for this series of classes, I find myself in the same situation that you are dealing with.
I'm sure I'll have more to say on this later...
Here is the link to Patrick's original post