I’ve never been a parent to get overly involved with the kids school assignments. My strategy has been to let them learn not only the content but also problem solving, scheduling, negotiation and completion while getting on with it themselves.
And then there was one.
Just this morning I could no longer handle the outright panic tween was in due to a 5 slide page PowerPoint file. I sat down to help her and discovered it was due TODAY and the bus was going to arrive in 40 minutes.
My usual advice would be too bad, sort yourself out with an extension, or something of the like. But the look of dread on her face, the fact that I dragged her away on a holiday, (perhaps it was really that I had one glass too many reds last night and i wasn’t thinking clearly). WHATEVER the case I shoved her out of the way and sat at the computer.
She had a good understanding of the topic but just couldn’t get a grasp of what the assignment was asking her to do. She had worked herself into quite a flap both because of the lateness and not ‘getting it’ (tween likes to be on top of instructions) I just couldn’t put up with it anymore.
Tween in a flap is not a pretty picture. As she started to wind up into full tween mode my head began to thump. I had to do something.
So I helped.
OK, I ‘contributed’
As I conducted my 20 minutes of contribution I became absolutely immersed in the subject matter. I discovered there was much I didn’t know I knew, and even more that I was interested in. As I noticed the cogs of a passion for learning turning I thought about how easily a bad teacher can turn kids off learning.
It took me back to my own high school learning experiences and I truly understood why I spent much more time at the beach than in the classroom. There was a lot more inspired learning there that’s for sure.
I thought of the dozens and dozens of students that I’ve met over the years in adult education who were absolutely turned off learning because of dud teachers. And I felt a strong desire to work out how those inspiring, dedicated teachers (of which I do know there are many) could be cloned. What is the magic that they possess that keeps them effervescent about their jobs even when surrounded by challenging tweens on a daily basis.
As I completed 15mins of cutting and pasting into the presentation and handed the assignment back to tween to complete the critical thinking components (much to her chagrin by that stage) I asked her to look at the people she was writing about. To absorb what they had done and the contribution they had made.
She smirked, you now that one shoulder up in the air accompanied with “I dunno” but not in words, as a melody. (I’ll record it for you sometime)
She got the assignment in. Meanwhile I now sit writing this post and realising that I’ve now set a precedent that could be rather tricky to reverse. But perhaps this little lesson was worthwhile as I reconnected with the reason why I love learning so much and truly noticed how easily my child could miss that opportunity.
I’ll certainly be paying just a bit more attention to whether my kids are actually learning, or just churning out what they need to in order to get by.