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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yes, actually you ARE ready for graduation

Okay, it's rare, but sometimes I do have students who are ready to graduate even though they think they need more time.  Often this happens for Black Belt exams, since we would all like to have more time to prepare ourselves for those.  As an instructor, we have to make sure students are mentally and emotionally ready so they don't get stagnant or complacent.  For them, it's about facing fears and taking on challenges.

Sometimes it's about the elusive perfection, or a student has compared themselves to someone else in class.  Either way, the instructor has to remove that student's self-evaluation (which is flawed), and establish the proper standards for progress
in their particular art.  In other words, do what the instructor says.

For underbelt students, instructors are establishing the baseline for trust that will be the foundation for a potentially life-long relationship.  When evaluating a student's performance, we have to be honest and constructive at the same time.  If we do that from the start, then most students will accept our instructions without question, even when they feel some personal hesitation.

My Dad was the type of dad who let us experiment and take risks.  "Go ahead and see what happens," was his typical encouragement (especially when Mom wasn't looking).  Sometimes that meant I messed up, but he was always there to catch me.  Students may stumble on some of your requirements, even though you know they can do it.  Pick them up, dust them off, and help them try it again.  Sooner or later they will see what you see in their own potential.

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