Where I train in karate, the head instructor's son (aged in his mid-20's) has recently taken over most of the classes. This young man (I'll call him Steven) is knowledgeable and experienced. In the past, when he taught occasionally, I enjoyed his classes. He taught us new things, or taught us things we already knew from a different angle.
Since Steven became the main teacher, though, he has become very defensive. He is critical, with very little praise to offer. He bridles at any question regarding techniques, however innocent. With the older students (and there are quite a few of us in the 30-50 age group), he has been particularly curt.
I understand what is going on here. Steven wants to be sure we are all giving him the respect he deserves, as our teacher. The trouble is, he is aggressive, and somewhat disrespectful in his attitude towards the class members. Tonight, when he became annoyed by a 50-ish black belt student who Steven thought was defying him (when actually, the man had made a geniune error), Steven told the man to 'f*#k off' out of his class! To be completely fair, there has been some conflict brewing between Steven and this other man for some time (through misunderstandings, from what I can tell). However, I thought the swearing was extremely unprofessional. But then I guess I'm not 24, and I'm not trying to teach a class ranging in age from 15 to 55 (70 if our oldest member comes along!)
I'm frustrated by karate classes these days. I can feel Steven's defensiveness and aggression. I want to tell him, 'You can't force people to respect you. You must inspire respect. Be a teacher who is firm but patient, who corrects but also encourages." Of course, this would go down like a lead balloon!
Still, I might try speaking to Steven in private. I might tell him how much I've enjoyed his classes, but how I would enjoy some positive feedback as well as correction. I might let him know that I respect him as a teacher but that I sometimes don't feel respected as a diligent student (which I am). Because really, if there is no change, I won't want to continue training. And to leave without at least trying to discuss the issues seems like a cop-out, and a waste of all my years training at that club.
Hmmm. Might sleep on it!