Where are they now? Mikael Walker: Video Editor Extraordinaire

Jul 06, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Learning to write is mostly about learning what sounds good on paper, right? It’s about writing with structure and style, isn’t it? While these are certainly important, they aren’t what matters most. Writing isn’t just about learning to communicate; it’s about learning to think. It is easy to focus on the quality of your child’s essay or story while forgetting that the process, as much as the product, should be the goal. Earlier this week I interviewed former IEW student Mikael Walker. Mikael works with me at IEW as our Information Systems Assistant, and although I know him fairly well, I was still surprised by our interview; his takeaway from his childhood experience with IEW is both insightful and often overlooked.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am 27 years old, happily married, and currently working for IEW doing my dream job. I am a video and audio editor, as well as a general IT guy.

Do you have other plans for the future?

I see this as what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. I am learning a lot from this job, something new every day. When I was a kid, I really struggled with ADD, but if you put a puzzle in front of me I would hack away at that thing for hours at a time. My job is kind of like those puzzles. It’s fun. And who knows what else I could do. Right now it is video and audio editing, but in the future I may pursue programming or a variety of other things—only God knows what He has planned for me.

How old were you when you first started using IEW?

My mom brought home the IEW curriculum when I was in junior high. We had first listened to a talk that Andrew Pudewa gave at Biola University in California. At the time I couldn’t write at all. As soon as I put pen to paper, my attention was gone. I couldn’t stay concentrated on writing—I wanted to play outside or do puzzles. After I started IEW, I realized that as long as I could get a general outline of the thoughts I had inside my head, I could reconstruct them and write them on paper. Using a “key word” outline to record my thoughts wasn’t just for writing; it also helped with speeches. I remember that for my high school graduation speech, instead of writing out a script I just created a key word outline of all the points I needed to hit. I went from a boy who couldn’t stay still unless he had a puzzle in front of him to someone who could stand on stage and deliver a speech.

Do you feel like IEW helped you after high school, during college?

I went to Biola University and did College Plus. Originally when I got to college, I tried to write papers the “normal” way. I saw my friends’ papers and thought, “That could probably work, and it doesn’t take quite as much thought process.” I tried this “normal” writing for a semester—it didn’t go too well. I realized that I had to go back to basics, back to how I used to write. Pretty soon after that revelation, I was editing papers for my classmates, telling them, “This paragraph needs a clincher. Take three words from your introductory sentence, and use them in your last sentence.” I started tutoring them on how to construct papers. As my grades began to go up, so did theirs. I think the professor was confused—he probably thought that it was his doing. In the end I learned that IEW is applicable far past high school. You cannot just drop it after you graduate—that will just perpetuate mediocrity.

What type of writing do you feel you are best at?

Definitely non-fiction. I love the deconstruction of thoughts—using a key word outline to eliminate unnecessary ideas that are not pertinent to the conversation. During college when I had to write from a particular perspective or argue a specific idea, I could break down the different components and use a key word outline to analyze the skeleton of the argument. This approach helped with opposing view arguments as well. I would research the opposing view first and then early opposition, breaking both of them down—I liked to compare the differing views and see how they interacted with each other.

What do you feel is the most valuable skill IEW taught you?

How to break down or “deconstruct” ideas. My professors would encourage me to free write, and that doesn’t really work. It gets stuff out of your head but doesn’t help you organize it. You can learn so much from all nine units of IEW, but there is a reason why it starts with the key word outline. It is not just for recording the information in a source text; it is also to help you learn how to think, how to extract the key thoughts from your head.

Do you think this skill is necessary in your day-to-day life?

It really applies to every aspect of my life. For example, when I start a video project I have to break down the angles and the different cameras until what are left are just the key pieces. And then I reconstruct the video using those different bits and pieces.

One last question: What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t think that writing skills or the lessons learned through IEW are only applicable to writing and papers. They are applicable to life. This is the Suzuki method of writing. It’s as good a method for music and writing as it is for life. It’s more than a methodology; it is a philosophy.

If I had to pick one word that stood out to me in this interview, it would be the word “deconstruct.” Before you can write anything, you must first break down your thoughts and then organize them. Perhaps this is one of the biggest problems with our education system. Teachers often put an overwhelming emphasis on activities such as “free writing” and words like “creativity” while completely failing to teach the skills and the step-by-step process needed to accomplish this “creativity.” Before writing comes thinking. To me, that is the true power of the IEW method. It teaches you how to distill your ideas (or the ideas of others) into clear, concise points so that you can construct a composition with both structure and style.


Growing up in the Pudewa family, Christopher Pudewa was exposed to the IEW method from a very young age. During high school he had the privilege of competing in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, where he was able to apply the skills he had learned through IEW. Chris is currently attending the University of Oklahoma, majoring in Criminology and Psychology.

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