Updated Post: I know for some of you the school year has already begun and for the rest, it’s right around the corner. Your hands are full with projects, preparations, and trying to enjoy what vacation time you may have left. So my homework assignment for you is simple, watch a movie! My top 3 instructional, inspirational, and rejuvenating films for teachers are, drum roll please; The Karate Kid, Goonies, and October Sky. I would need to write a book to reflect on all these movies, so let’s just focus on The Karate Kid for now.
Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen this iconic classic from 1984 stop reading now, watch the movie, read this blog and then watch the movie again and again. If you want to become a karate master or conquer some great obstacle afterward, that is up to you!
Ok, so hopefully you have seen the movie and are now ready to learn from it in order to become the best around! There are numerous lessons and practices to touch upon from this film, but in the interest of time I will narrow it down to two: The Importance of Kindness and Teacher as Guide and Mentor.
The Importance of Kindness
From the moment they met, Mr. Miyagi paid attention to Daniel and expressed interest in his life and well-being. This alone is huge for a teen, as so many feel like they are invisible. Before Mr. Miyagi agreed to teach Daniel karate, and become his teacher, he built a connection through acts of kindness. He fixed Daniel’s bicycle, taught him the art of Bonsai and even gave him a tree to work on and keep. Kindness can show a teenager (and everyone) that the world is not such a bad place after all. A kind individual is at peace with the world and is secure in who they are. For a teen in turmoil, this can be a light shining in darkness, providing a path to follow. Kindness benefits human development on many levels. To learn more, read this great piece from Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD and founder of ROOTS of ACTION.
Teacher as Guide and Mentor
All of us face challenges and uncertainty in life. As a teenager this is particularly true. They occur in every aspect, be it biological, neurological, psychological, spiritual and social you name it, being a teen is crazy! For Daniel Larusso, life was even harder because he had no father. Daniel and his mother struggled financially (as evidenced in their failing station wagon), he didn’t have any friends, he rode a bicycle when every one drove cars and motorcycles, and he became the victim of karate fighting bullies because he fell in love with the wrong girl. Pretty tough! The teenage years are when a guide and mentor are most needed and lucky for Daniel he found one in Mr. Miyagi.
Mr. Miyagi guided Daniel in the tradition of the martial arts where the physical aspect is seen as part of a way to live ones life. Mr. Miyagi was fond of saying to Daniel, “Must find balance!” This included trusting your instincts, standing by your decisions, taking chances without fear of failure, and living life with passion as expressed in Mr. Miyagi’s other favorite expression “Banzai Daniel-san!” Which can loosely be translated to something like “may you live a 100 years,” or live with passion. Mr. Miyagi provided Daniel with a path to follow in life. Each encounter was a transmission of practical skills as well as wisdom on how to conduct oneself in life.
Young people learn not just from what you teach, but how you live your life. Perhaps the most profound scene in the movie is when Daniel learns that Mr. Miyagi is not just a karate master, a gifted craftsman, and an artist, but is also a Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran. This revelation fills Daniel with reverence and is expressed in his bow (traditional sign of respect) before leaving his sleeping teacher’s home.
A mentor can play a vital part in the life of a young person. This article, by Varda Meyers Epstein, contains valuable information and examples and speaks to the power of this ancient role. If you are wondering if you have what it takes to be a good mentor you might want to read this list from The Connecticut Mentoring Partnership and the Business and Legal Reports, Inc.
The takeaway: You can play a huge role in the lives of your students. They may be looking at you for guidance in life as well as academics. Acts of kindness can positively transform an individual’s outlook on life. By placing emphasis on the journey and not the destination when teaching you create opportunities for life long learning. For more wisdom from Mr. Miyagi click this link.
Thank you for reading and for sharing. Please comment on the blog and share your thoughts on the films and any ideas they brought to mind. Now go find balance! Banzai!