Lessons from the Kung Fu Panda by Gus Cerro


One of the best all-time animated films has to be the Kung Fu Panda, apart from being a terribly funny, it delivers several very good messages about life and it’s challenges. Many times situations, actions or events occur at training or games that can be reflected back to the message that the movie delivers. There are two particulars scenes which at the time reminded me of my job as an educator. The first was when Po’s (the Panda) Father (the duck) finally reveals to his son the secret noodle ingredient!
Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is… nothing!
Po: Huh?
Mr. Ping: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po: Wait, wait… it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?
Mr. Ping: Don’t have to. To make something special you just have to believe it’s special.
[Po looks at the scroll again, and sees his reflection in it]
Po: There is no secret ingredient…
The perception that it is special is what makes it special. How does this relate to what happens at training? Well as an educator in a field were confidence and environment ultimately determine how hard a student will work it is imperative that we provide an environment that is conducive to the individual’s self-belief. Therefore the classroom must be a place that is special to them, a place they long for, a place they can’t wait to enter because it makes them feel good. If we provide this environment then we are ultimately providing a place where the child can build character through the rules and mechanics of the sport. Punctuality, discipline, obedience, concentration, groomings are part and parcel of the classroom environment. A teacher can manipulate and mould character with these tools to develop good character traits.
The game provides the platform but the coach controls the environment. It’s his job to make the environment special. So how does one control the environment at training so that children will keep wanting more? Too much control and the kids lose interest, to little control and you have the real possibility that the kids will begin to muck around. There is a fine balance and it takes some experience and research in order to set the optimum environment for training. Having a little understanding of children’s cognitive capabilities will assist you as an adult to understand more about how children think and learn. Sometimes the easiest way to decide what to do with them is to put yourself in their shoes and ask would I enjoy this, would I enjoy standing around waiting for a turn, would I enjoy waiting on the side for 5 minutes I for one would not and I distinctly remember that as a player all I wanted to do was play games and be challenged.
As a teacher there are things that you can and can’t control, you can help shape character but without the parents being responsible for teaching children what is right and what is wrong it can sometimes be an uphill battle. Take bad language as an example if a child repeatedly uses bad language you can punish him through disciplinary actions, however, if some form of disciplinary or educational measure isn’t followed up at home, it is going to be tough trying to explain to a child that what they are doing is not really acceptable. However, your actions and your rules can assist in steering the child in the right direction.
Another example is Oogway (the old turtle) explains to Shifu (kung fu master) that no matter what you do the peach tree will always be a peach tree.
Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfil his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control.
Shifu: Illusion?
Oogway: Yes.
[points at peach tree]
Oogway: Look at this tree, Shifu: I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.
Shifu: But there are things we *can* control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!
Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!
Oogway: Maybe it can, if you are willing to guide, to nurture it, to believe in it.
Shifu: But how? How? I need your help, master.
Oogway: No, you just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu, promise me you will believe.
We are constantly looking for ideas and ways in which to improve what we do and sometimes we find those ideas in places where you least expect. Movies provide an excellent array of stories that can help you to pass on knowledge and to assist you to better understand your role in life. Our message is that we are entrusted with the safekeeping of children when you raise your hand to become a coach or decide to become a parent or teacher. If you are willing to learn, you CAN make a big difference in a child’s life. A positive step towards shaping character and well-rounded individuals. We all love the game but let’s not allow our own adult agendas to get in the way of good coaching and role modelling. Our environment controls our decision-making process, in fact, every decision one makes can be directly linked to a character. So shaping it should be our first priority to enable kids to make good decisions on and off the pitch. Throughout human evolution it is the stories we have passed on from generation to generation, that has shaped beliefs and cultures, they, in turn, form our morals and values in life. Good stories are everywhere to be found.
By | 2017-12-01T14:44:54+10:00 November 28th, 2017|Education|0 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a former professional footballer, part-time blogger, football fanatic, sporting director of Foundation Football. Father of two brilliant musicians, ideas man, inventor, a drone pilot, handy with a lightsaber and lifelong partner to my soul mate. My views and opinions are my own and you're all entitled to them.

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