Win the Inner Battle with Mawi

You have more in you than you can imagine.

Inspiring Interview with Mental Karate Instructor

by Mawi on May 17, 2011

One of my favorite Mental Karate schools is Waimea Middle School in Kamuela, Hawaii.  The wonderful English teacher who heads up Mental Karate, Liz Noetzel, was kind enough to give us this interview.

Why did you decide to use Mental Karate with your students?

I have used “Of Beetles and Angels” for a couple of years in my 7th grade Language Arts classes, so I was very familiar with Mawi Asgedom’s journey. Coincidentally, I was looking for a successful character education program, and it was in my online search that I discovered the incredibly unique but very logical idea of character action that Mental Karate offered. It made perfect sense to me and I was immediately excited about it, and convinced it was going to be an exciting year.

What was the most rewarding part about leading Mental Karate this year?

I would have to say watching the kids take the initiative to accomplish great things, big and small, which have changed who they are as people, separate from how they see themselves as students. To see students become empowered to positively change their own lives as well as the lives of others is an incredible gift. They have become advocates for other people and animals. They raised $500 to help the Japanese earthquake victims, they have improved relationships with their family members, they donated 165 cans of cat food to our local animal shelter, they have improved their grades, they have written short stories, they have created their first iMovie, and they have spent time in deep reflection about how they felt after taking each action…the list is endless. But most importantly, they have realized that little steps, taken with intent and purpose, lead to great things no matter how old you are and no matter what circumstances life has handed you. Nothing is impossible. They get that now; they’ve seen it in their own lives.

Is there a story of student success that you’d like to share with everyone?

They all have many stories of success, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is my student Josh who decided, without any help or guidance from me, to initiate a “penny war” between homerooms to help raise money to send to the Red Cross in Japan. He took it upon himself to ask the principal if he would donate a pizza party to the three homerooms who raised the most money in pennies. He put posters up and promoted the penny war on our school broadcast. He elicited the help of a centrally located teacher to let him collect the pennies at recess. He had fellow classmates help him count the pennies. When all was said and done, his efforts had raised $500. A few weeks later, he asked me in class, “When can we do something for someone else again?” To which I replied, “Any time you want to!” Mental Karate has become a way of thinking, not just a class assignment. Helping others is contagious, and he has caught the bug.

Students holding a check with the proceeds from the "Penny War."

What advice would you give someone considering using Mental Karate with his/her students?

Do it with the students, but choose realistic goals. Be honest and open about the challenges you are facing as you attempt each belt, as they are most likely dealing with the same challenges. Assure them that if they fall down, they can get back up and try again. Be flexible with your time and if a rich discussion is taking longer than you planned for in class, run with it and let it take priority. You will be teaching them so much more than content; you will be teaching them how to be positive, powerful, effective advocates for themselves and others. These kids will change the world, of this I am quite certain, and I can honestly say that Mental Karate has played an enormous role in this transformation. I could not have done this myself.

Learn more about Mental Karate here.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 sarah May 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm

This book is amazing i just started it and i loved it

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