Thursday, March 03, 2005

Class as Event?

I haven't written for a while because Tuesday's class was so discouraging!

There's a very disruptive boy who occasionally shows up at TTh Ninja kids. He was there Tuesday and his presence really affected the mood of the class. He slouches into class with dirty, too-long pants and t-shirt. He loudly badgers the teacher ("I'm tired! Do we have to do this? Can I have a drink? The toilet is clogged up--will you fix it? Can I have a break?") and spends the class falling down, kicking sloppily, and laughing inappropriately.

A couple of kids were able to concentrate despite his bad, attention-seeking behavior, but most (including mine) were not. This turned the entire class into a loud, disjointed, undisciplined, unpleasant experience.

As an extra adult (Brian was also there with his son, Matthew), I felt I needed to help keep order, which exhausted me. I can do it with my own (would prefer not to!), but disciplining other people's children while trying to learn wipes me out. I felt stressed and frustrated when I left. I also felt bad for Mr. Houtz.

Saturday's class (and most classes without this child) are completely opposite: on Saturday, class is an event. When Master Hughes enters and yells, "line up!" everyone shouts "yes, sir" right away and does it. He wanders the aisles (Saturday's class is huge) and gently corrects those who need it. Something about the atmosphere of those classes makes them seem like an event, like test day every day. It's the ritual, I think: the bowing, the neat lines, Master Hughes's commanding voice.

You'd think that would be more exhausting than a loosely-run class, but it is not. The discipline is a kind of envelope around all of us, helping us know what to do next and allowing us to focus just on what we're learning.

I keep trying to get the boys to come to one of Master Hughes's big classes, but they insist they like small classes better. And when there are no disruptive students, the small TTh classes ARE wonderful. But there's something about participating in one of those big class events.

I did do a nice couple of flying side kicks at the end of Tuesday's unpleasant class. Mr. Houtz saw the first one and said "beautiful kick!" :-) My last one was awful; I stuttered, then jumped awkwardly and came down on Brian's foot! Ow!

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