This post appeared on a listserv in response to a story about a teacher being fired for striking a student she felt threatened by. The poster has written good, balanced posts in the past, so this on is quite interesting……
“I can understand the mistake.  It’s a frightening situation.  The teacher
> was acting out of fear.  But the cause of the mistake is a lack of
> training on the teacher’s part.  Self defence is about knowing how to
> avoid situations like that.  Getting backed up into a wall is a lack
> of situational awareness.  Striking without being struck is likely
> escalation of the event (and could quite possibly be ruled as such
> in a court of law).
> A very small percentage of any population is violent.  They may have
> a mental illness.  They may have other contributing factors.  Some
> jobs require contact with all members of the population.  Police and
> health workers are a good example.  Teachers are another example.
> These people may come into contact (possibly even on a daily basis)
> with potentially violent people (even if they are in a very small
> minority).
> We can try to create a safe work environment.  We can try to identify
> people with violent tendencies or with mental illnesses and assign
> workers with special training to those people.  But we aren’t going to
> catch everyone.  IMHO, *all* workers who deal with the general
> public should be given self defence training.  My experience is that
> the vast majority of potentially violent situations can be defused without
> injury.  And even in situations where violence is unavoidable, there
> are martial arts that specialise in control while causing the least
> possible damage (which clearly did not occur here).
> This training should be provided (along with the ongoing time
> necessary for practice). But that’s probably not going to happen
> any time soon.  I highly recommend any teacher (or nurse,
> convenience store worker, etc, etc) to invest a portion of their
> free time in appropriate training.”
My first thought went to the legislators in my state (AZ) who want teachers to be able to carry guns in class. Then I pictured teachers going through obstacle courses with machine gun tracers arcing over their heads and then quickly to teachers of a certain age training every Saturday morning (instead of grading) in Aikido, which seems to be the martial art most called for here. It might help with some sorely needed weight loss, although the artificial knees might complain a bit.
But can’t everone argue that we should all be aware, that teachers need training in how to handle and defuse tense situations, that there are indeed ways to avoid or head off confrontations? Sure. OTOH, it is ludicrous to picture some of my colleagues, me first among equals, decked out in our ninja outfits, giving side-long glances to our rear to neutralize in-coming threats to our person.
Really, I didn’t know whether to laugh at that image – hell, even our coaches are pot-bellied and out-of-shape – or to assent to basic training in awareness for our teachers.Calls for mutual respect as the first line of defense make sense, yet we know that in some situations we are over that line and into hostile territory. Some other barrier must be erected to protect both teachers and students. While I didn’t read the initial set-up on this, I do know that there are 16 year old guys twice my size, and that includes a lot of girls, and I am 4 times their age y pico.
What would my solution be? Well, I just got back from the gym and tonight my wife and I will meditate on the Lotus Sutra.

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