Monday, February 28, 2011

Loving the Struggle

     I teach adults at a technical college.  I also teach two future adults.  I remind myself of that fact every day, the fact that I am working with future adults.  What abilities do I want my children to posess?   Do they need to know Organic Chemistry?  I think I would rather have them know the struggle of learning Organic Chemistry, Physics, poetry, or our current dilemma, handwriting.

     Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the struggles that my children and I are sharing together are more important than the actual outcomes. 

     Today, my eight year old son had an absolute meltdown about subtraction.  He yelled at me, saying that I would not help him because I would not write the numbers down for him in nice, neat rows.  He got mad because I wouldn't enable him.  That is what I have to remember.  I told him directly that I am helping him by letting him do things for himself. I hope that some time very soon he will believe me. 

     I don't think we let our children (safely) struggle enough.  I see the results of enabling with the adults with whom I work as well.  They start doing math, or writing, whatever, and they throw their hands up and say, "This is hard!" Yup.  That's why it's worthwhile.

     I remember my dad answering my 'When am I ever going to use this!?!' question in regards to Geometry with a "You probably won't, but it's more important that you see how you work when something is difficult.  What do you do when you meet a challenge?" I bought it back then, and I still do. 

     I had the pleasure of teaching high school for six years.  When I see those "kids" now, it's the ones that I challenged, and they might have bucked me, that say 'thank you' now.  The adults are thankful for how I helped them as teens.

     I want to do that for my own children.  I want them to struggle, not give up, and know how good it feels to succeed.  I want them to do this so many times, that it is a normal experience for them.  I want them to love a challenge, not to shy away from one. 

     A good teacher leads by example.  I need to follow these lessons as well.  I need to role model a challenge, a struggle, and I need to persevere.  One way that I am doing this, for both myself and my family, is by running a half-marathon in May.  Yesterday, I ran nine miles, the longest I have ever run in my life!  I need to grow as a person, just as I hope my children will always want to do.  I want us to love the struggle, and know how good it feels to cross the finish line, until the next race. 

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