My name is Monica Zandi and I am a graduate psychology student at Pepperdine University, part-time research assistant, and a proud Manadoob educator! Since the beginning of the year, I have been meeting with my cohort of students on a weekly basis to go over the program. Thus far, it has been a wonderful experience to spend time with such fun, bright, and compassionate children. While I feel that my group of students already possess and exhibit a number of sophisticated interpersonal skills, empathy, psychological insight, and self-esteem, the program has worked to further enhance and even cement such qualities. For example, when we discussed bullying in the story, my group of students unanimously knew not only what bullying looks like (overt and/or covert) but that it is wrong to subject one another to such harmful behavior (e.g., “slapping,” “kicking back backs”).
My favorite part about the class is the workbook exercises; I believe it is also the students’ favorite part as well. Typically, we will do 2-3 exercises and present them to each other. The students not only get to critically think about the chapters they just read but they are able to practice their writing and public speaking skills. Because Manadoob discusses sensitive topics, these exercises can be personal and requires them to figure out how they want to organize their thoughts while reflecting on the material. I have seen my students initially balk at the exercises by not answering them completely or evading the subject, while others are very open with their feelings and opinions. Over time, however, I have seen gradual change, particularly with respect to their psychological insight. For example, I had a student that would occasionally discuss some of the kids at school she did not “like;” one could say, she was even venting at times. While I never objected nor stopped her from venting, I helped her critically think about her behavior within the context of Manadoob and the workbook exercises. The program enabled her to gain greater psychological insight about herself and relationships; she stated last class that one of her weaknesses is being too “judgmental” and that she hopes to change.
I believe the Manadoob truly carries valuable life skills that even as adults we lack. It’s also a rather beautiful story with some really rad art!