I keep learning and re-learning this lesson. Be very careful about calling someone, or even thinking about someone as a “former student”.
Of course, at BTC, we tend to think that way all the time. We work hard to keep people in classes, and when students don’t come back, it’s very easy to see the enrollment numbers, not the people behind them. Why don’t people come back?
See? Even asking the question that way makes it seem like a “yes/no” distinction. Are you a student? Are you not? That’s completely the wrong way to approach the issue!
As soon as you realize that the pursuit of a movement practice is just one facet of somebody’s life, and that they are possibly balancing many, many more than that, you start to understand the issue. People have lots of things going on, and just because they can’t always fit classes in, doesn’t mean they’ve stopped practicing, or that the practice doesn’t mean anything to them anymore.
This explains why college students make horrible tai chi students. It’s not them. Well, not completely….it’s the systemic factors that make them such a poor fit for BTC. Two of the biggest factors: their schedules change every 4 months and they’re used to getting everything for free.
Look at the other “more reliable” end of the spectrum. Granted, tai chi has incredible benefits for aging well, but most of our students tend to be older and therefore more settled, unencumbered with childcare for the most part, and often free to pursue their own hobbies and interests.
So, when I think of all the “former students” sandwiched in between these two demographics, I’m very sympathetic to the fact that things may have just gotten too busy. What’s more, thinking this way motivates me to craft some kind of offering that acknowledges their busy lives, but engages the passion they still have for their practice. You’ll see this kind of offering sprinkled throughout the BTC calendar, especially coming up this winter.