"Free" tuition

I am sometimes surprised by how those in Generation Y expect things to be given to them for free, rather than appreciating that the world doesn't owe them everything.

Consider this young fellow who, in relation to one of my Youtube videos, asks me to "please make a video explaining how to master that footwork step by step".

You'll see in the comments that I politely declined, citing the difficulty with "video teaching". However I don't think he got the hint that his demand for even more free information was quite cheeky (ie. "Your existing free video isn't detailed enough - please give me much more. For free, of course.").

All this from a person whom I couldn't differentiate from a bar of soap.

The video in relation to which the request for more detailed free instruction was requested - click on the video twice to access the comments.

I note that in the comments on a related clip someone else has offered to give him free tuition over the net. I wondered if I should say something, but I decided that I shouldn't labor the obvious. If the other person wants to offer free tuition to an unknown and cheeky Gen Y, then so be it. I don't think it should be encouraged, but each to his own.

Why should a prospective student expect me or any other martial arts teacher to give them knowledge for free that cost a great deal of money (never mind blood, sweat and tears) to acquire?

As it happens, I am happy to give information for "free" in many circumstances. But as my good friend Narda says, it isn't totally "free" in some respects if I feel I am getting something from it (eg. satisfaction in doing something well, enjoyment in teaching or helping etc.). If I don't get anything like this back, I don't give. I don't get any satisfaction from giving to someone who takes selfishly. Nor does this entitle a prospective student to say: "You enjoy teaching, therefore you ought to enjoy the privilege of teaching me." That is simply outrageous!

In a teacher/student relationship (or indeed in any relationship) there needs to be yin and yang - a balance.

We have always had a policy at our dojo that no one is turned away on financial grounds. If a student can't pay in money, he or she can give back in other ways. With any such arrangement there is a necessary precondition that the student must train with dedication and sincerity - so that the instructors at least have some "reward" for their investment of time and effort.

On the topic of balance, I often think you can destroy a friendship in 2 ways; giving too little and giving too much. I've found over the years that you need a balance in any relationship for it to be sustainable. I remember I had an impoverished friend for whom I often paid small amounts when we were going out (parking, a beer etc.). One day he turned up at my house and gave me a handful of notes and coins that approximated what I'd paid for him over the preceding couple of months. He was clearly agitated. "There," he said. "Please don't lend me any more money." I took the money and the balance was restored. We never spoke about it again and I was careful not to make him feel indebted to me (which was never my intention, by the way) from that time onwards.

Copyright © 2009 Dejan Djurdjevic