“A cold . . . causes less suffering than an idea.” – Jules Renard

“A cold in the head causes less suffering than an idea.” – Jules Renard

Cartoon girl blow her nose

Image from URL below:

http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/campaign-materials/print-materials/FactSheet-RunnyNose.html ……………………………………………………………………………………………

Speaking for myself, when I have been involved in an activity, such as teaching or parenting, and I have developed (or learned by default) a set of activities, behaviors, and ideas, I tend to stick with them out of sheer practice. I do what I do. I am used to it, and I may not even question it. Especially I don’t question my own practices if I am so lucky as to feel a modicum of “success” in doing these things.

What a shock then, when unfolding events prove I have “missed the mark,” as it were, and failed to address the right set of parameters.

One example may suffice for now. This topic will require more discussion later I am sure.

Suppose I am teaching someone to read (or any other relatively complex task). I use the conventional methods that I know and perhaps some less-known methods as well, particularly if the student or child appears to be struggling with this new learning.

No matter the amount of effort I make, the learner doesn’t “get it.” I grow frustrated and try harder. Doing about the same things of course.

As Einstein said, “Doing the same things, and expecting a different result is insanity.”

The learner, meanwhile, looks around and sees that others are “getting it,” no problem, and concludes, “What’s the matter with me? I must be dumb.” And later, if the failure keeps up, “I am no good.” This is a killer of future potential, just as surely as a smashing car wreck.

Sometimes, the pupil just quits, “knowing” they are “never” going to “get it,” “never” going to “make it” to success.

Here I thought I was teaching reading (or whatever). I bent every effort in that direction. After all, learning to read is an important skill, right? A very important skill as a matter of fact! So I just keep flailing away . . .  for the sake of the learner, you see?

So here’s the painful new idea:

I am not teaching reading (or whatever the needed skill is). I am teaching the learner how to fail. How to feel badly. Or worse: how to feel worthless. And how to give up hope!

Is this what I intended to teach? Of course not.

Now what?

Now it is me who feels like a failure. I feel badly. I may even want to quit. I may give up hope!

Teaching and parenting is like that. If you let it be.

Time out to seek a new idea, or many new ideas about how to teach learning success, not learning failure.

Yes. For the sake of the pupil. And me too.

Doc Meek, Friday, June 4, 2010

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

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Parent and Teacher Choice