Educational Judo


Illustrations by Michael Hulström

This video from Temple Grandin makes a powerful case for the value of different minds:

If you can’t see it above, watch it at

The teachers I know who have the biggest impact on students’ lives seem to innately understand that it is more powerful to work with kids’ quirks than against them. It’s a kind of educational judo: you use their personality, talents, and unusual interests to influence them, moving them towards future success.

These teachers unearth their students’ passions and then build their class around them, modifying last year’s lessons to better fit their new group. Like a judo-master, they use existing momentum and guide that energy towards a goal.

They don’t try to wrestle, pinning their students into a curriculum.

My first year, I was definitely a wrestler. But I saw how my colleagues subtly worked their influence on students, and I think they even managed to judo me into being a better teacher as well.