Saturday, October 1, 2011

Middle School Judo: Day 2

Learning a turnover, pin and escape

Here we are in the second day of teaching at Gompers Middle School and it is great! We don't have enough gis and half the gis are missing belts, but whatever. There are 14 kids who work hard from the minute class starts until it is over an hour and a half later.

To be a member of the class, students are required to have good grades, no behavior problems at school and commit to attend the entire school year. Every Friday, after school they come upstairs and put down the mats. When I get there at 3:30 we start practice with a warm up and then go right into judo matwork drills, exercises and throws.

There isn't a water fountain in the room and it isn't always the best idea for the students to be outside the area where judo is, so the teacher, Mr. Gonzales and I decided we'd have to remember to get water for the kids for next week. He said he would just go out and buy a couple of cases of water because it's not very expensive. Note, this is a teacher who has two small children, one of them a newborn, who works all day and then helps organize and teach this class after school for free, since there is no budget. Next time you hear someone talk about how bad LAUSD teachers are, think of him.

A terrific, and I think very accurate, description of what it is like teaching at Gompers is given in this post by a teacher called "A View from our Watts Middle School."

Yeah, there are a lot of things they lack, but as you can see from the picture below, talent isn't one of them.

One other thing I appreciate about this class is there is NO WHINING.  The students were selected to be here. They want to be here and they work hard with very little goofing off, especially considering they are all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students who have come here straight from school with no break.

Some people tell me that I am crazy that I teach for free, I'm a world champion, I have a Ph.D., I'm de-valuing myself, blah blah blah. I disagree. Everything doesn't have to be about me getting every dime I possibly can from people. There is no money for programs like this in the district budget so either I teach for free or there is no class. I'm not hypocrite enough to complain about the state of American education (which I do frequently) and the lack of physical fitness in youth and yet never get off my ass and help.

Besides, it's fun.

And frankly, I hate that "what's in it for me?" attitude so many people have that you should never do anything for free. Most of the best things that paid off the most for me in terms of having a great life - sex, parenting, getting an education, traveling around the world - I did for free.

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