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  • Jamie Marcellus

Don't be this type of Student


If you've ever taught anything you've probably had some difficult students. It's understandable that people don't learn at the same rate, have different things that motivate them, different levels of drive and skills to begin with. If someone enjoys something and is motivated to learn (even if it is out of their comfort zone) they will make an effort and that's what teachers love. Effort eventually leads to progress which can continually reignite the motivation.

The student that I want to rant about, is the student who has a hard time with seeing other people progress and he or she brings people down with them. Has there ever been a time which you've taught (anything) and someone is doing amazing and it totally makes another person feel intimidated or bummed out? Take it one step further... a person might make a comment like "why is SHE so good at that?" "SHEs good at everything" "SHE probably started doing that when she was 5". Man, I feel sorry for that person! But honestly they've gone too far! I do not want this person in my class!

I'm so outright BOLD about this because in one particular experience, I was that person who was TOO good. I heard those comments and felt bad... like me being good at something made someone else feel bad. It made me feel like I was showing off, and that I needed to down play my skills so that other people could feel good about themselves. I know it sounds crazy but I was young and I couldn't imagine that pretending that I wasn't good at something would be somehow bad for me. It was detrimental! It's like playing a game with someone who you know gets really mad if they loose... you don't really want to play because if you win they get mad and if you loose they gloat.

I see it all the time teaching surf lessons. If 2 people take a lesson together... someone is going to be better than the other. Lets say 'Jane' has wanted to take a surfing lesson FOR-EV-ER, but doesn't want to do it by herself, she finally gets her BFF 'Betty' to come with her because that's what Jane wanted to do for her b-day. The beach lesson is awesome, both ladies are a little nervous, excited and ready to get in the water. There's always a turning point when people get in the water... its basically flight or fight, you will either flip out and forget everything you learned on the beach or all of your senses will illuminate and you'll be able to fight through it. Jane has been waiting for this day and her expectations were very high. Betty is just along for the ride and willing to give it a go... and she turns out to be a natural in the water. Jane makes a comment like "I didn't think this would be so hard! It doesn't look hard for BETTY. I can't believe she's standing up." Betty starts to feel bad because she is really LOVING IT, she never knew she would like it so much, but she now doesn't want to let it show. And of course she wishes Jane was having more fun, it's her birthday after all!

The second you are in the water and have these emotions to deal with, you lose focus and become less aware of your surroundings... you're in your head, not the moment. Betty can't stand up again. This makes Jane feel better about herself. I'm thinking 'Dammit Jane, stop watching Betty! Betty, get back in the game.'

As with much of my personal writing, it's therapeutic, I don't often share it and at the back end of my blog are several unpublished posts. That being said, I started writing this over a year ago, before I started training Jiu Jitsu. I'm contemplating the differences and similarities in Jiu Jitsu vs. surfing with relation to that damn ego and bringing yourself and others down. And in this case I'm the struggling student. In surfing, it's you against the wave and it sometimes feels like you against the whole ocean, there is no tapping, and when you get smashed you got smashed by the elements, mother nature smashed you and smothered you and she can kill you.... and it's nothing personal. Just try blaming your lack of success on the damn ocean! That's productive! I have to take responsibility for every bad decision I make in the ocean, which over the years have been MANY. A lot of bad decisions in surfing come from not fully paying attention or having expectations. But it's okay because I have if I'm lucky, an infinite amount of do overs.

What kind of massive ego must I have to set expectations for water, for it to behave how I see fit, just so that I can have fun? The ocean doesn't care about me and I will never be a better surfer than a dolphin... it's not personal. On my Thursday mornings when I don't have to work at 7am, I want everything to line up for me; storms that originate thousands of miles from where I am sitting on my surfboard just meters from land, for the wind to be blowing favorably, for a minimal amount of seaweed so that I don't get tangled up, for waves that I are small enough to have fun on but not big enough to kill me, for the water temperature to not have dropped 3 degrees from last week (I didn't bring my 4/3), oh yeah and for any creature that is hungry and big enough to eat me or sting me, to please just not come near me. When everything lines up, we THINK we don't have to think as much

I want to be like water, because water will never bend at my will, I need to be flexible and Water does Some days small feats or not getting smashed,

Do you have a Jane or Betty in your class? Are YOU a Jane or Betty?

Lets discuss!


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