Karate-cal Thinking

“Never mind what you ‘think’ darling, I am telling you!”

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. It’s about about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.

There are countless times in my childhood when I would question what teachers were saying – not to disrupt or derail the class but because it was none-sensical to my experiences at the time. 

For example…

At 6 my teacher asked “Class, what colour are apples?”  Answers were called in ‘red’, ‘green’, ‘yellow.’ All of which were correct but I wanted to know about the brown ones with white spots I used to see on the ground. Much to the amusement of the class I was told ‘there’s no such thing’ ???

There were countless other times like this “Can you make a sentence with these words? little, the, car, drove, big, the, down, street.” … There was only one hand raised for this one. A hesitant sigh from teacher, “yes Joel?”

“The little big car drove down the street” – From the response you’d think I was a standup. An eye-roll later I was asked to explain why I was protesting it. “My mum drives a mini, which is a ‘little’ car, but it’s very famous so it is also ‘big.’ – the little, big car, drove down the street’.

Other questions included what does god look like. This was a huge one to sink my teeth into! 😀 

For a while after it was deemed I should have a sort of cardboard box type structure around my desk, with a letter-slot opening to view the teacher at the front of class. Literally trying to teach me to ‘think inside the box’. The blinkered view prevented me from being distracted from all the colourful and creative things we ‘children’ had made upon the walls – and more thought provoking than the content coming from teacher’s mouth.

Could you imagine what would happen today if a teacher put a child in a box?!

I’ve since come to the opinion that she was projecting. Maybe it was more that ‘she’ wanted to be in a box and was struggling with things.

In any case I never stopped questioning the world, I just stopped vocalising it so much. School simply seemed like a period of ‘hard time’ that needed to be waited out.

Circle talks – questioning the world through karate

It’s from this vantage point that I’ve always applied myself to teaching children more openly and honestly. I’m ever re-thinking the way in which I can relay karate to the younger generation with value. 

For me karate’s not just swinging the arms and legs about but a pathway to equipping a collection of vital life skills for greater health and a better future.

This is not about moralising. Some dojo say they teach ‘respect’, ‘discipline’ and ‘honesty’. These terms litter dojo websites and marketing but are a kind of dressage that usually points to a style lacking much depth.

If children are loved and surrounded with joy then they don’t need to be told what is right or wrong – they will have a direct experience of it. 

What children need is guidance in understanding their inner-connection, so that they can achieve a sense of balance in an ever changing world. To not get emotionally hijacked by the daily sensorial bombardment of marketing and media and can leave us confused and disempowered. This leads to a true inner strength, greater physical and mental health.

They won’t learn these things in an education model that was formed to prepare large numbers for factory work and not question what they are told. 

So I’m interested in how others tackle this, but I’m worried because I do see a lot of ‘cookie cutter’ classes.

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