Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 333 of 365: Value Difference

So, in light of America's Independence Day, I decided to get to thinking about the differences in mindset when it comes to allocating instruction and guidance.

A little over a week ago, I was in Washington DC, enjoying a world festival at the National Mall. We made sure to make it to the tai chi lesson (because what better place to have your first "tai chi in the park" experience than on the National Mall?), which included a lesson in tai chi ball. The two instructors showed people how to do a few simple flips and left us to our charges. Within about a minute, after noticing that I had already figured out one of the flips, one of the instructors spent the rest of the time instructing me on what else I can do. While other people were still dropping their balls (*snicker*) left and right, I had the instructor's full attention, to the point that the second instructor jumped in to help the first instructor translate what he wanted to say to English better.

So I know that sounds like a nasty case of humble bragging, but I do it to make a point about values: as an American tai chi instructor, I devote the majority of my time to the poorest-performing student. And that falls right in line with the American idea of who should get the most attention: help the lowest rungs because they need to catch up with the rest of us.

From what I've learned about the Chinese way of doing things (at least when it comes to martial arts), the attitude is the opposite: devote your time to those who can get it down pat quickly because they show the most promise.

I'm sure there's something here about the irony of a communal society favoring the individual best versus an individual society favoring helping those in the back, but it's stupidly early in the morning and I've already used up all my articulating abilities. So I'll end it by wishing everyone a happy and safe Fourth (especially us on the East Coast -- what is up, Hurricane Arthur).

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