Mr. Miagi’s Rules for Students

      2 Comments on Mr. Miagi’s Rules for Students

My family and I were in Cincinnati this weekend for my younger sister’s graduation. (Congratulations on your Masters in Genetic Counseling, Heidi!! We’re proud of you!)

When you’re staying in a hotel, it’s inevitable (at least for our family, it seems) to channel-surf. As my brother and I were hanging out this evening, we stumbled upon The Karate Kid. (The original.) In the movie, Daniel-san makes a deal with Mr. Miagi. Daniel will be taught karate if he follows exactly what his teacher tells him without question. First, Daniel is told to wash and wax cars. Then, to sand a deck, paint a fence, and paint a house. Each task had to be accomplished in specific ways. Finally, Daniel gets so frustrated with these tasks, he threatens to leave. All along, Mr. Miagi was teaching the basics of karate and Daniel learned without even realizing it.

What revolt would we get in our classrooms if we assigned tasks with no apparent goals in mind? Could it possibly be okay for students to learn the process of a task before they know the outcome? In what situation could we ask student to implicitly trust us, their teachers? In today’s climate of “teacher at fault, student always right,” in what way could we implement these ideas? I realize I am asking many questions without posing answers, but maybe this will get us to think.

I believe that innovation lies with those who are willing to take risks. Teachers who constantly find new ways to present materials. Students who are willing to follow a teacher’s directions, even though they might not know where they will end up at the end of the lesson. Teachers who see the process of learning as one of discovery and enrichment.

I pray that all teachers can find this spirit and have students who are thrilled to share in the process of learning because of it.

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2 thoughts on “Mr. Miagi’s Rules for Students

  1. Anne

    This makes me think of the times I have had my students try something without ME even knowing the outcome (gasp!). It made the lessons that much more enjoyable for all of us. I don’t recommend doing it all of the time, but it can be another good method of teaching!

  2. Susan Price Slehofer

    I have done “mystery quilts” along these line – dimensions and directions, block by block, one at at time, with no clue as to the final outcome. And in the end, an amazing completed work. Teaches the same lessons you referred to in your contemplations.


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