Stories from the field

All teachers have stories; learners do, too. All of us have our teaching and learning stories. Here are some of mine.

Some of these stories also appear elsewhere, such as in my original
MA Thesis. Sometimes I share stories I’ve heard from others. I always aim for accuracy and fidelity, but please keep in mind that I am also human!

I just heard another one, for example, at a health club. It’s a story that shows, once again, that a teacher can think they are teaching one thing when, in fact they are conveying quite another, resulting in a consequence which is opposite from their intended goal.

Two of us were inviting the young woman at the reception desk to come to our T’ai Chi class. She said that she usually stayed away from martial arts classes, but that lately she’s tried capoeira and enjoyed it, so now she was thinking maybe she’d try T’ai Chi. My friend asked her why she stays away from martial arts classes. She told us that when she was six years old, her parents put her in a self-defense class. She remembers being dragged out into the middle of the floor crying as the teacher kept yelling at her, “Kick me in the balls! Kick me in the balls!” She cried as she refused, because she didn’t want to do that. The teacher (who, I’d bet, had the best of intentions), kept on yelling at her to kick him really hard, and told her that if she was kidnapped, she’d have to be able to defend herself. She said the man was a well-respected teacher and a relative of hers to boot, but since then, she never wanted to take another martial arts class.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard similar stories, though usually less dramatic, about classes in subjects from math to music.