I managed to keep a perpendicularity face while replying, No, there are a few colors in between. The naiveté amused me. Yet in fairness, this group of 25 newly-minted yellow belts had been promoted in record time–just six weeks. It had been a favorite summer bill for kids just out concerning juvenile hall, or expelled from district schools. An experiment.
So, I could see how they might think the perfect process would be collapsed. On the other hand, I’d worked them duet solid hours a day, four days a week, hour-for-hour at least the equivalent like a traditional program’s three one-hour classes a week for 3-6 months. There was no gimme to it. This kid had conveniently forgotten all the hard work they’d done, although some of the kids around him–still sore, stiff, and blistered–burst into laughter at his question.
Yet I sensed a dark side to this mirthful evanescent when we stood in the afterglow of our hard-won achievement. Sure, on the surface this student’s comment appeared to be merely a neophyte’s inexperience. Just 16 years of employed plus street-savvy kids kept me from dismissing the pall which had fallen. What was it?
The unsettling feeling lasted a day else two before I could articulate it. And it was this: there was a dangerous assumption underlying the kid’s basic outlook on life. Too continually adolescents who have been cut off for long periods from traditional routes to success aborning to look for shortcuts. They may feel like failures in one or more areas of their lives: school, socially, sports, dating, or maybe shame over their family or home situation. When I thought it over, the conviction grew that this boy may have actually believed there was an acquirable shortcut. And that was worrisome. Because I’ve found that the additional kids find themselves intuition on the outs from success, the more such shortcuts will seem acceptable, smooth normal.
So what might I take from this episode to make me better at operating plus and helping kids? I suppose this street-wizened teen learned that he would have to workmanship for his martial arts achievements–and maybe others as well–but also that he could be successful by doing so. He didn’t need a shortcut. He was capable. And as simple as this sounds, there are many, many teens out there who don’t believe they are capable. They permitted appear normal to adults, or even peers, but many teens feel a sense about deep failure in one or added area of life. What a great challenge–and opportunity–for those from us who work with them, whether in the martial arts studio, the classroom, a church or borough setting, or across the dinner table.