Teacher and Student: the Fire/Water Dance

Dear Five Faces: This is not a question about a personal relationship, but it is something that is bothering me, so I thought I would ask. My high school senior is having problems with one of her teachers. I know, what high school student doesn’t, right? But my concern is that the dynamic could set a tone for the rest of Jenna’s (not her real name) life. Jenna is an outgoing, fun-loving, teen-age Fire. She doesn’t go heavily into drama, but she sure is flighty in a cute way. The teacher in question is probably a Water. I have met him once and he is slow moving, thoughtful, and what you might call unfocused in his style. Jenna finds his history class boring, thinks he is a “total downer,” and consequently isn’t doing well in the class. Should I let her drop it, or is there some way to help her appreciate his Watery approach to learning? Signed, A Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom: Bless you for caring enough about your daughter to try to help her understand her teacher instead of just letting her bolt from the class. There is definitely the possibility of offering Jenna a life lesson in this relationship dynamic. Here is how I’d suggest you approach it.

It’s pretty clear that as a Water, Jenna’s teacher is affecting her on her Control Cycle. No Fire likes to have Water rain on their parade, so it’s understandable that Jenna would react negatively to this particular teacher. Plus, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that Fires are all about the now, and history is so about the past, especially the old and seemingly irrelevant past. The goal will be twofold: 1) helping your daughter manage learning from someone on her elemental Control Cycle, and 2) helping her see some value in history. And honestly, this isn’t going to be as hard as it sounds.

First, I suggest a brief (do keep it short for a teenage Fire) talk about people and personalities. Ask her what she likes about her friends (as a Fire, she is sure to have plenty of them). Help her see how some of what she likes in others are personality traits that are very different from her. This will be an important awareness for your daughter. Our world needs more tolerance these days and that comes from understanding. Ideally, you will be able to recognize some of the good Water traits (inspiration, ideas, playfulness, etc.) in many of her friends and point those out so Jenna can see their value. Then, help Jenna recognize some of these same good Water traits in her teacher. The goal is to help her see him in his totally, not just as the controlling parts that are a downer to her.

Second, at a different time, initiate a discussion to illuminate the possibility that theory, studiousness, and ideas are all very important for life, even though these might not be high one the list of a teenage Fire. You can point out that to celebrate the now (which Fires like to do), someone had to conceptualize and plan the now for it to happen. This is a bit abstract, but it will be a good awareness for any Fire to start realizing that now isn’t all there is; it’s just part of a continuum stretching from the past to the future. Learning to honor the past as the creator of her now will be a huge step for her and might even help her appreciate history a bit more. It will certainly put history in a new light.

Fire Water DanceFinally, remember that our Control Cycles are not just about control, but also about support. They help assure that we stay in balance, which is a huge favor. Your little Fire will need the cooling comfort of Water energy many times. Since she’s going to do the Fire/Water dance all of her life, this is an excellent opportunity to help her appreciate it. Good luck!

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