Chapter 6img Irimi: To Enter

The toughest aikido class I ever taught was a bunch of teenage girls. I'd been brought in to teach aikido at one of the most exclusive, private, all-girl high schools in Washington, DC. The girls in this school were straight out of the movie Mean Girls—privileged, entitled, ruling their own corner of the world.

I'm used to teaching high-achieving adults. In most of my classes, my students want to be there and are excited to learn. We tend to share a similar outlook on life. This class was different. This was a room full of teenage girls, ages 15 to 18, who were basically there just to get gym credit. This was a completely different challenge, and I wasn't prepared for it.

As a teacher, I am patient and encouraging, even as I set high standards and expect my students to exceed them. With highly motivated adults, this attitude works fine. With these high school students, it was a disaster. ...

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