Peer Pressure

I teach martial arts as an alternate PE credit elective inside of a public school in a financially challenged area of North Texas.

There is a new student who has been nearly late every single day since transferring into my class. Once inside the classroom, he is attentive, hard working and clearly eager to learn. But once we step out of the classroom, he changes into this thug who claims to have been forced into my class.

What gives?

Well, it seems that the answer is peer pressure.

As we were entering the building after class today, a student from another class saw him and in typical modern teen fashion began to harass and ridicule him for being in karate.

For a start, there is no shame at all in being a part of the KICKSTART KIDS class, it is a very worthwhile choice for an elective, and it gives a home and a sense of belonging to many kids who have a hard time finding that place in school. Year after year our students outperform non KICKSTART KIDS students in tests, attendance, behavior and any other category one may care to use as important. The bottom line is, martial arts teach kids to use discipline in order to achieve success. It is a lesson learned daily, weekly, monthly and yearly in our class. Beyond this, any student who  is doing well and not in the Principal’s office all of the time, or facing alternative placement should be held up as an example, not made the subject of scorn or forced to fabricate excuses for why they are making good choices. Especially when they seem to always be offering these excuses to students who wouldn’t know a good choice if it fell in their lap and started singing about doing the right thing.

Upon being seen, *Billy* offered a flood of excuses and stories about how he was forced into the class. He was clearly embarrassed about being seen with our group.

It is a shame that kids who do not have the intestinal fortitude to try something new and risk failure have to try to drag down others with real interest and real talent.

The people who are able to stay true to their interests are able to achieve success, those who give in to the outside pressures will not. I faced my fair share of people ridiculing me over my interest in the martial arts, and I did not quit. This past summer, two of my students, Sally and Tina, while not facing ridicule, did face pressures to leave karate from different sources, yet they persevered and managed to pass a grueling Black Belt test.

Those who criticize you do not matter. What you feel when they talk bad about you is nothing compared to the regret you will one day feel if you let them make you quit.

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