June 12th marked the last official day on the job at United For Success Academy as an after-school martial arts instructor. It was just a staff meeting that day. As a way to have some fun, each of the employees was given a “paper plate award” which highlighted some unique achievement or attribute. I got voted, “Most likely to be found with a plate of food in the front of the school” award. It’s true man. Had to take advantage of that free school dinner!
The title of this post refers to something I mentioned to another teacher after we had our end-of-year student showcase where each of the after-school classes did a presentation for parents, students and staff. It truly did feel like the end of an era for me. Not sure why. I was only on the job 3 months. But I can definitely say that this was perhaps THE most challenging (and significant) job I’ve ever taken up. During our end-of-school individual employee evaluations, I was surprised to hear my supervisor ask me if I had any interest in coming back next year. I had thought that the funding for this program was on the verge of being cut because student enrollment in my class had drastically gone down (like to about 3 or 4 kids; ideally should have 15 – 20). What happened is that the funding grant for this and other programs lasts for two years and so next year will be the year where enrollment really counts if martial arts is to continue to be funded as an enrichment program.
But I turned it down.
Something’s not right with me and this setting. Don’t know what it is exactly yet. My main concern was that there were shadow sides coming out of me with these kids that I thought I had some control over. Things mainly to do with anger and aggression. It really takes a “bigger” person (i.e. grounded) to not let insults and physical defiance cut you down. I thought I had a good amount of patience with kids in general but I found myself snapping at them in ways that I felt could be harmful. I’m not necessarily surprised that these things arose in me, but I don’t like them either, at least not around kids. Kids need a safe and supportive environment as the regular school day and the society around them is toxic already. And perhaps it was the school environment itself that helped to trigger these things?
I’ve given it some considerable thought about whether or not I’m prematurely leaving a job like this. Maybe I’m just too new and inexperienced? Maybe I’m just not seeing that “it’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit” as the poem goes. I think both of those can be true, the first one definitely. But I also know that teaching “martial arts” specifically is also what I’m still having a problem with. That’s not where I’m gifted. It’s something I think is highly beneficial and important and deep and profound, yes. But it’s not where my genius lies.
I believe that education is the key to beloved community and world peace. I believe that even though I’ve never actually experienced this first hand. I believe I still may be involved in the educative process of young people as far as jobs go, but I feel like I would need to discover what my “subject” is. I mean how does one teach “broadening minds, becoming world citizens, perceiving commonalities and thinking outside of the box“? I can intuitively sense that by exploring the door of one subject (like karate) I will be able to open the door of many more subjects. But I think I would need to have creative control over my curriculum and the administrative support behind that. Or start my own thing with some like-minded people.
Not exactly sure what my next steps will be for the summer. Still boxing. Need some income to support that. I will say that I am extremely fortunate to have the parents I have. They have been supporting me since my soul decision two years ago to travel to the Motor City. Without them and without the friends I’ve made along the way, I don’t think I could have survived as well as I have all this time. I am truly grateful. Thank you.
I’ve decided that from now on I’m gonna sign-off on these posts as simply the Quantum Karateka. I think “Hiji Ate” was gettin’ a little too esoteric for me. And besides, it’s the name of the blog itself that speaks to what I’m really about, so why not sign-off as such?
Don’t think. Feel.
– the Quantum Karateka