Saturday, October 8, 2011

Who the heck is that?

We started a new term at Shichida last Sunday. Sunday classes started one week earlier than the rest this term because there are three public holidays this term which fall on Sunday, so this was sort of a make-up class that the centre was kind enough to arrange for us.

I walked into the class to find that we had a new sensei - I actually thought I was in the wrong class! I was not aware of the change because it was announced last week, at the last class of the previous term, which we skipped (we were in Malaysia).


I have always said that the success of the Shichida Method does not lie with the sensei. It lies with the parent. The method focuses on the bond between parent and child, believing that it is the love of the parent which enables the child to flourish. So, how do I feel about this change in sensei?

Ryan has been with his (now previous) sensei for 2 years, ever since his very first Shichida class. There were two occasions when she was switched to a different class and both times, we switched classes to keep Ryan with her. Both times, we switched together with one of Ryan's classmates, ZR. ZR was also her student from the beginning and she has told us that the two boys are the best two students she has. Whether or not that is true is irrelevant, what I treasured was her absolute belief in Ryan's abilities. I also felt that she genuinely loved him. So there is a sense of loss, at least on my part.

I was not overly concerned about whether she was a good sensei, I just did not want to disrupt the bond that had been formed between her and my son. She understood him and his character/personality and he understood her instructions. One time, I mentioned that I didn't think Ryan understood a certain activity during home practice. She leapt to his defence and said that he understood it when they did it in class and he understood what she wanted him to do (meaning that he definitely understood the activity).

I was also a little disappointed that I had not been around last week to discuss the change with ZR's parents. Out of the six students in the original class, we were the only two that remained together. The rest either dropped out or transferred along the way, I don't know. New students joined the class to take their places. We were the two familiar faces. When Ryan's sensei switched classes the first time, we conspired with each other, against the rest, to get spots in her new class (there were only a few spots so not all the students could transfer, although I think the rest were not bothered). The students in the new class were relatively quiet and it was a pleasant class.

Then Ryan's sensei was transferred again. We and ZR followed her and ended up in a very boisterous class. The parents were very friendly, they would chat to each other throughout the class and even to each other's children. The very first class we were there, two parents distributed biscuits to all the children. Another time, one parent gave out huge balloons (those long ones that you can bend and shape into a sword). ZR's dad was not that thrilled because he felt that it was not very disciplined. He told me that it seemed as if only Ryan and ZR were focused, the other children (and parents) did not seem very serious about the whole thing.

I was not sure what to make of it actually. I didn't really mind the slight indiscipline, as long as Ryan's concentration was not affected. Ryan had experienced the greatest levels of distraction when the class was comprised of babies, fussing and crying in class, and he had trained his focus and concentration from there. This was peanuts to him now, he didn't bat an eyelid. As for me, although I was a little overwhelmed by the friendliness, I did feel quite welcome. Still, I admit that it was a little bit of a culture shock to me and I was glad that ZR and his dad were there, it gave me some comfort. It was like the two of us were sticking together through thick and thin.

Anyway, it looks like Ryan's sensei got transferred again. Since ZR was not in class last Sunday, he must have transferred with her. Escaped to a quieter, calmer class? Most likely.

The issue is, do we want to try to get in the previous sensei's class again?

I discussed this with Richard and after weighing all the factors, we decided to give this new sensei a shot. Ryan was still doing well and we had been warmly accepted by the other parents. There are little differences between the new sensei and the previous sensei but perhaps that is a good thing. At best, we could look at it as a new phase - Ryan is definitely moving into the output stage now - so perhaps a new face would give him the sign that it's a new game with new rules. At worst, it shouldn't make a difference since the sensei is just there to guide the parents (not the children).

A part of me is still sad. I do feel that I've lost someone whom I've grown attached to. We got Ryan's observation book back last Sunday and for last term's report and evaluation, his (now previous) sensei had given him top scores in everything. Her comments were:

"Was able to verbalise words and confident in his activity. Ryan has really grown to a brilliant and intelligent boy. All the way, Ryan :)"

Sigh. It's as if they were parting words. If only I had known.

To Teacher Nuraini Ahmad - thank you so very much for being patient with Ryan, cheering Ryan on, believing in Ryan and loving Ryan for the past two years. I hope that our paths will cross again. Take care.


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