Lately I’ve been asking myself why I teach - well, other than the fact that I have to finish the terms of my contract to teach till the end of the next year’s spring semester – but really, why do I teach?
Is it because I love sharing knowledge and my weird interest in the body and healing? Yes.
Is it because I it thrills me to see that moment when a student realizes for the first time just how beautiful and life-changing the power of touch can be? Definitely.
Is it because I am good at it?
If I were to base it on the new curriculum the head teacher for the program has set up, the answer is a big fat NO. I don’t teach out of a textbook. I don’t regurgitate my stuff word for word, or tell students that there is only one way to do things – that the client must say the pain level is 7/10 when you start pressing on that trigger point and get it down to 3/10 before it’s a success. If they say the pain level is 5/10, you must then press harder on that knot in the muscle to get 7/10. Because it has to be 7/10.
I don’t teach that way. I just can’t.
And I’m horrified to see students come to my class after finishing their basic massage class believing that there is only one way to do bodywork – that everyone else, regardless of how many years they’ve been doing it, is wrong. Including me. Because I don’t do bodywork the way they were taught as the only “right” way it should be done; that regardless of whether you have a bum knee or bad back, you need to lunge forward to adjust to the prescribed height of the table or you’re doing it wrong. And everyone else who doesn’t do it that way? They’re wrong, too (don’t worry, I do lunge).
So I’ve grown tired of hitting that mental wall that students present to me and my teachings, the close-mindedness they present to class when they come in seeking hours for their transcripts – and usually nothing else. My 17 years of education and practice is now plain wrong because it does not match up to the way they learned to do massage in the last 3 months, learned only from one teacher who follows only one book, and teaches according to her beliefs – that the sound a pump bottle makes is similar to the sounds of sex in a porn film, so you can’t use one during your massage, or that aromatherapy learned through her Young Living classes is enough to give you what you need to learn about essential oils.
Theses students, now specializing in “aromatherapy” no longer know the individual properties of lavender, rosemary, tea tree or frankincense, and have no desire to do so because they are now armed with 8 hours of aromatherapy and a kit that can cure everything. They can tell me what Thieves oil blend is good for (apparently, everything), but not be able to name one ingredient.
So, yes, apparently I’m wrong.
And now, I can honestly say, I’m also tired.
Tired of hitting that wall, that close-mindedness that these students bring in to my class, believing only what they were taught, and not allowing themselves to be open-minded, whether it’s about the varying levels and perceptions of pain (emotional, physical, and spiritual) by others who will, one day, be their clients, or that a therapist can use his/her thumb in massage as long as it’s supported – because it was drilled into them for the past three or four months that there is only one way to do things. It pains me to see them go out in the world with such beliefs, such narrow-minded mentality, – such indifference – knowing how their touch can make or break a spirit seeking only a touch with loving kindness and understanding.
For awhile I thought I could do it – that there is room for my way of teaching in this world – because after all, I have been very fortunate to have been taught this way, where my own spirit was allowed to grow, and explore and bloom under patient, open tutelage, where I was taught to feel and listen to the tissue allow you in, release and let you in a bit deeper. What I learned – what the teachers taught me – hardly came from a textbook. It came from the heart. It came from their own lives. It came from their souls, and I count myself truly fortunate and grateful for having been given the gift of their instruction and time.
But those schools are long gone, either struggling to get by or closed because the big companies have moved in with their high tuitions and student loan options, state funded programs regardless of whether you have an existing conviction record or not, hiring teachers fresh out of massage school with barely two, three years experience, hand them a thick binder representing a syllabus and telling them, “teach this,” where instead of semesters, there are modules and anyone can join in at anytime of the year. You learned by the book, you taught by the book. Experience as far as hours spent with clients, listening to them with an open heart, is not of value – not the ones whose main goal is enrollment and the bottom line, and regurgitating words in obnoxious massage textbooks that have lost their soul a long time ago.
And now I know there is no room for me in this present space, when every word I utter is filtered through some impregnable wall that I no longer have the heart and soul to fight every time I stand up in class, wishing I were somewhere else. Because that wall is there, and it’s not about to come down.
Not without breaking me down first.