I've got a situation...

deadhand31

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Not sure if this is the place, but here it goes. Please forgive the lengthy background:

I am an assistant instructor at a local TKD school. I have been a regular student for over 7 years, and I have been helping out with instruction for 5 of them. For the past 2 years, I have been running the Saturday kids classes with a fellow student. Despite holding down a job and going to school, I have made a continuous commitment to helping out at the school. None of this is paid, and I continue to pay full tuition.

The school is owned by my sabunim, who comes to the school twice a week. The bulk of the teaching is done by my instructor, who has no say in finances and has also run the school at great personal sacrifice for measly pay.

Last night, I was at an outing with several former students who have moved away, but still stay in close contact with my instructor. During the outing, one of them had mentioned that my instructor had said another student was "on the books." I asked what this meant, and she claimed that he had set hours, and was compensated.

Now, I don't wish to downplay this student's skill. He is an excellent student, and has always displayed a natural talent for the arts. However, I know for a fact that his attendance is nowhere near consistent as mine, and several times he has been gone for weeks at a time. I can also say that I have been willing to give alot more of my time to the school; in the past 5 years I have missed perhaps 2 testings as an assistant. The only person who is at the school more than I am is my instructor.

What I don't know is what to do. Do I mention what was said to my instructor? He has been exploited by my master instructor for longer than I have been in the school. If what was said is true, it's not his doing at all. Do I ask this other student if it's true? If it is, I couldn't blame him, because I would snap up the opportunity in a heartbeat.

I will be at my school in about 50 minutes, and already this has weighed heavily on my mind. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

Xue Sheng

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Don't know what to tell you. I went through a similar situation with my first Sifu many years ago but it was reversed, he paid no teachers and did not give discounts but he wanted someone to teach in a specific area and I lived closest but I refused to do it for free so he began to discount my monthly payments and I got a percentage of what he charged for the classes I taught. HE did this with another student at about the same time but as far as I know we were the only 2.

Talk to your teacher see what he has to say that is the best I can tell you not knowing your teacher.
 

Cruentus

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Just logged on and saw this...

So, I am confused. What exactly is the concern. Is it that you are not being compensated, or do you feel that the other person shouldn't be compensated, or do you feel taken advantage of, or what?

I guess I need it spelled out for me before I can give an opinion...
 

gkygrl

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This is a tough situation for sure. The only issue is that you are working from information that was shared with you secondhand. You don't know the definitive facts.

If I were you, I would talk to the person in charge of the books and let them know that you really love putting the time in but is it possible to have tuition waived for your time. Has your instruction always been done with the idea of "volunteerism"?? If so, maybe the person that told you the "on the books" information is misinformed.

If I it was me, I would not want to cause undue rift but would honestly ask if tuition could be waived for you. Afterall, I would think this would be a given?!

Those are just my thoughts for a way that might be a more peaceful one.
 

Kacey

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Well, first, I'm a little confused by your terminology. "Sahbum" means instructor - my personal instructor is my sahbum. When starting class, the instructor (whomever s/he is) is address as "Sahbum-nim" - "honored instructor", but when I use the phrase "my sahbum", I am referring to the person who accepted me as a student, the one who is my primary instructor. I am assuming, therefore, that you are talking about 2 people - the senior instructor/school owner as well as your own instructor, the person who accepted you as a personal student.

That being said, I agree, more information is needed. First, how sure are you that this gossip you heard (and it appears to have been gossip) is true? Second, why does it matter to you?

If you feel you, and your instructor, are being short-changed, then you need to talk to the senior instructor/school owner - and if you feel that neither of you can do so, that should tell you something about the person right there; while students should not openly dispute things with the instructor in front of other students (it's rude, and undermines the instructor's authority), if you cannot approach the person privately and ask what's going on - something is wrong right there.

If you feel you can talk to this person, then you need to start there, and find out what's really going on - what you heard could have been incorrect, could have been taken out of context or out of proportion, could be a short-term solution to a monetary problem the other student is experiencing - it could be none of the above. But without that type of information, it's really hard to give you any meaningful feedback.
 

MrE2Me2

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Not sure if this is the place, but here it goes. Please forgive the lengthy background:

I am an assistant instructor at a local TKD school. I have been a regular student for over 7 years, and I have been helping out with instruction for 5 of them. For the past 2 years, I have been running the Saturday kids classes with a fellow student. Despite holding down a job and going to school, I have made a continuous commitment to helping out at the school. None of this is paid, and I continue to pay full tuition.

The school is owned by my sabunim, who comes to the school twice a week. The bulk of the teaching is done by my instructor, who has no say in finances and has also run the school at great personal sacrifice for measly pay.

Last night, I was at an outing with several former students who have moved away, but still stay in close contact with my instructor. During the outing, one of them had mentioned that my instructor had said another student was "on the books." I asked what this meant, and she claimed that he had set hours, and was compensated.

Now, I don't wish to downplay this student's skill. He is an excellent student, and has always displayed a natural talent for the arts. However, I know for a fact that his attendance is nowhere near consistent as mine, and several times he has been gone for weeks at a time. I can also say that I have been willing to give alot more of my time to the school; in the past 5 years I have missed perhaps 2 testings as an assistant. The only person who is at the school more than I am is my instructor.

What I don't know is what to do. Do I mention what was said to my instructor? He has been exploited by my master instructor for longer than I have been in the school. If what was said is true, it's not his doing at all. Do I ask this other student if it's true? If it is, I couldn't blame him, because I would snap up the opportunity in a heartbeat.

I will be at my school in about 50 minutes, and already this has weighed heavily on my mind. Any advice would be appreciated.

I come from a school where this was commonplace.
You basically have two choices, in my opinion.
Leave or obey quietly...

Believe me when I say that I thought long and hard before posting even this.

Leaving means either finding another school or otherwise starting off on your own.

Obey quietly; you have already seen your instructor do this with a calm mind.

Both are difficult choices and both have long lasting repercussions.

If you leave; starting over can be a very trying experience.
You have to find a new school.
You have to learn new ways.
You have to meet new people.

If you obey quietly; This too, is a very difficult thing.
You will continue to have NO say in the running of the school.
You will continue to have NO say in promotion of students.
You will continue to have NO say in your own advancement.

In my opinion, that you even asked means you have already doubted...
(In case it isn't obvious; when it was my turn, I left.)
 

Phoenix44

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I was in a very similar situation. I'd been teaching regularly for several years when I found out--same way deadhand31 did--that I was the only black belt who was paying tuition! In my case, my income fell and I could no longer afford tuition. When I told the owner I'd have to drop out, he stopped charging me, which put me on par with everyone else. I'm still training and teaching, but I never did have the same sense of trust and loyalty after that.

From the meetings I've attended and the people I've spoken with, it seems most common that black belt level instructors are charged full tuition and are paid for teaching; OR instructors train free or at a discount in exchange for teaching. Paying full tuition and having significant teaching responsibilities does seem a little unsual from what I've heard.

You can't go to the owner and say, "I heard that So-and-so is being paid to teach, how come I'm not?"

BUT, you can decide that with school and a job, you cannot afford to work for free, or that it's just unfair for you to work for free. So you can cut your teaching hours or stop teaching altogether--but I would obviously tell the owner that you were going to do this. Or you can ask the owner if, in consideration of the hours you put in, he can prorate your tuition, or pay you for your time.

There are other factors that may come into play. I'm assuming you are a black belt level intructor, correct? You mention that you teach the Saturday classes with another student. Is it possible that it's the other student/instructor's scheduled responsibility to teach the class, so you are viewed as a volunteer assistant? Are you a minor, in which case he cannot leave you in charge of the class alone?

I definitely feel for you; as I said, I was in a similar situation. I think you have to decide what YOU feel would be right in YOUR case, and then discuss it or let it go. But you definitely can't play your situation off that of the other student/instructor.
 
OP
D

deadhand31

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First off, to clear up the confusion, Kacey, this is the terminology as I've been taught:
Kwonjunim (sp?)-Grandmaster
Sabunim- Master Instructor
Posabunim- Instructor
Kyokwonim- Assistant instructor

Now, to answer some of the questions...
No, I'm not a minor, I'm 26.
I never felt that the other student shouldn't be compensated, if he's putting hours he most definitely should be.
I am a first degree black belt, should be testing for my 2nd sometime this year. The student who I've heard about is Cho-dan, but I really do think he's had the skill for his 1st degree for a very long time.

As for now, I'm going to bide my time, see what happens. I will approach my instructor privately, because he would be able to verify things or clarify misunderstandings. Though the source of the information I heard is highly reliable, in my mind, I'm not going to put stock into it until I get more of the facts.
 

FearlessFreep

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If you were happy with your situation before learning this, then nothing should have changed, unless this is an indication of dishonesty on someone's part

When I negotiate rate, salary, terms for a job, I don't care what anyone else makes. I must come to a deal with my needs and requirements, if those are met then I'm happy. Everyone else needs to look at their own situation and their own requirements and come up with their own arrangement and it really doesn't affect or both me

Same with schools; if you are satisfied with your role and responsibilities and arrangement within the school, anyone else's arrangements is their own business with their instructors, assuming everyone has been honest with everyone else in matters directly involving them
 

Kacey

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First off, to clear up the confusion, Kacey, this is the terminology as I've been taught:
Kwonjunim (sp?)-Grandmaster
Sabunim- Master Instructor
Posabunim- Instructor
Kyokwonim- Assistant instructor

I don't disagree with the terminology - my point was I only call my own instructor "sahbum" unless I am starting class (sahbumnim-gae, kyunyet - face the instructor, bow); I refer to him as "my sahbum" and other instructors as Mr. or Ms. [insert name], except for my sahbum's instructor, who is a IX Dan Grand Master - I refer to him as Grand Master (in English) - but only Mr. Doug Arnold is my sahbum, and I don't call anyone else Sahbum as an identifier. That's why I was confused.

Now, to answer some of the questions...
No, I'm not a minor, I'm 26.
I never felt that the other student shouldn't be compensated, if he's putting hours he most definitely should be.
I am a first degree black belt, should be testing for my 2nd sometime this year. The student who I've heard about is Cho-dan, but I really do think he's had the skill for his 1st degree for a very long time.

As for now, I'm going to bide my time, see what happens. I will approach my instructor privately, because he would be able to verify things or clarify misunderstandings. Though the source of the information I heard is highly reliable, in my mind, I'm not going to put stock into it until I get more of the facts.
I think waiting until you have the facts is very wise - there could be all sorts of extenuating circumstances - but until you know there's no point in getting upset about it.
 

stickarts

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I would not act without knowing more facts. Gossip, or he said she said type stuff leads to lots of misunderstandings. I think its most important to focus on your role there and make sure you are happy with your own situation.
 

newGuy12

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I say this: I think it is best to NOT raise a stink. What matters are between the others are between them, and you do not have to involve yourself.

Now, I know this. In our school, this is our way --> the SabumNeem will choose an advanced student to lead a class sometimes. Then, eventually, this student may become an Assistant Instructor, and even later regularly lead classes.

Now, this TKD (and other Martial Arts, of course, as well), is too precious to fuss too much or be uptight about money. The good student, even if they are leading classes, can pay tuition, and so forth. In this way, she or he helps to support the school. It is much more important than some hobby, you see. It is very special, like a family.

Now, by leading the classes, the Assistant Instructor actually learns. That's right. There is no way to understand how to do this without actually DOING IT. And, so, mistakes may be made, but, the Assistant Instructor keeps on, and tries harder.

So, to fuss about this money, in any way, I think is bad. I would say, Don't do it. We get so much from this, to worry about the money too much is bad.

Also, the other parties involved, they can make their own decisions. You do not have to involve yourself. There's no need, in my mind.
 

jks9199

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But...

If a school is using the advanced students as unpaid, free staff instructors because they're teaching the majority of the classes as "part of their training" -- and this happens a lot -- there's a problem.

If a school is run as a club, with no one really being "paid"... that's one thing. But, when the school is a business, and it's using paying students to eliminate the costs of adding staff... that's a problem.

And that is kind of what seems to be happening in the original poster's situation. If someone asks to be paid -- they get paid. But others are doing the same thing for free...
 

harleyt26

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I am very puzzeled.I train in Okinawan styles of karate,I am not sure what level Cho-dan is but it seems it must come before 1st degree black belt.How can someone teach when they do not know the fundamental requirements of a style or system?Why would anyone pay for such instruction?Is it normal for your master instructors to allow themselves to be represented by such lower grade students?Are these basics classes or is there information necessary for advancement being taught.As far as the initial question I would say that if you are still attending instructional classes for your own promotions,you should be paying for that.If you are actually teaching classes and not assisting an instructor to learn how to teach,maybe there should be some compensation in some way.Are you teaching them or are you learning by teaching them?It can be hard to learn karate but it can be very very difficult to know enough to explain the theories,applications and optional possabilities than can easily be found in a karate class by a seasoned instructor.I do not know you maybe you are as good or even better than the other compensated instructor/student,but martial arts is not comparable between students.Your karate is yours only and cannot be compared to another.Your instructor should have a good idea of what he can expect from you and what goals he thinks you can reach.These goals will probably be different for each student,dependent on personal differences like natural abilities and individual handicaps.As I said I do not know you or your instructor,but I would think that when your instructor was looking for someone to put in a position of responsability and compensate them for it that he would have looked at all the prospective possabilities and had good reasons for choosing as he did,if he did.In the styles I have trained in five years is not half enough to be considered a teacher.In most Okinawan styles a teachers certificate can be issued at the fifth degree black belt level(15-16 years).No offense intended but this is very puzzeling to me. Tom Hodges
 

Brian King

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Deadhand31 wrote:
He has been exploited by my master instructor for longer than I have been in the school.

I find this statement that you wrote in the opening post interesting and telling and where you might wish to focus your attention.

Good luck
Brian King
 

bdparsons

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You are not the owner of the school.

You don't decide or have a say in what financial relationship the owner has with anyone in his schools, except for yourself.

Your instructor seems satisfied with his own current financial arangement or he would have left by now. If he needed rescuing he'd have told you by now.

Bottom line, it's really none of your business.

Three choices. 1) Accept it and get back to training. 2) Confront the owner of the school directly, then get back to training. 3) Leave and then get back to training.

Bill Parsons
Triangle Kenpo Institute
 

Guardian

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It's simple in my view then again I've never run into that type of situation.

All you can do is ask the question to your instructor in a calm, non threatening manner, be civil and ask the question, he'll either confirm it or deny it.

What you do with the answer is your personal choice.
 

Lisa

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I am sorry if this comes across as rude, its not my intention.

You are a grown man and as such I think you know what you need to do. You obviously feel upset about the situation so nothing will be settled until you talk to your instructor. Hopefully you instructor is a man that is open and honest about things and will take your inquiries seriously. Hopefully you both can come to an acceptable agreement. If he isn't open minded and takes offense then you have a new question to answer, don't you?

What the hell am I doing at this school?
 

Phoenix44

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True, a dojo owner or any business owner can "do whatever he wants," but still, with respect to deadhand31's own situation, it IS his business. He is investing his time, energy, and money, and should be making a judgement as to its value (though not necessarily making a judgement regarding the value of the other instructor's time).

Most of us consider our dojo experience "special," as opposed to just an ordinary business transaction, but it works both ways. If the student regards his/her training as a special experience, we also expect the owners to treat the students and instructors with a very high level of integrity and fairness. We expect our HMO to take advantage of us, but realistic or not, we expect fairness from our dojo. As I mentioned, when I discovered I was the only teaching blackbelt who was paying tuition, it offended my sense of fairness.

First of all, one way to confirm whether or not another student/instructor is being paid is to ask the student, like, "Hey, you put in a lot of teaching time--you get paid, right?" If other people know he's being paid, I can't imagine he'd lie to you.

The owner may be completely unaware of how much time deadhand31 has been putting in. (Didn't he say that the owner isn't there on the days he teaches?) Or he may just think that deadhand31 has nothing better to do than hang out at the dojo all the time. But he'll never know until he discusses it with the owner, specifically with regard to himself. If he thinks he deserves payment, or a prorated tuition, or decreased teaching time, then ask for it. The owner may simply tell him, "Hey, I never asked you to teach!"

And then you can just decide whether it's worth it to you.

And with regard to the rank of instructors--let's face it, do you REALLY need a black belt to teach 6 year old beginners? I'd rather have a good natured, kid friendly, well-briefed kyu level instructor than a sandan with no people skills.
 
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