Memories of long days spent in classrooms come in different forms. My memories are mostly visual: watching Gerry Still score another home run during kickball, riding my newly painted pink and black bike home for lunch, singing along during worship as our teacher accompanied us on the piano using one finger.
I remember nothing positive about what I learned. A child with ADD in a one-room school with students from all eight grades crammed in is a recipe for disaster. It didn’t get much better when I entered 9th grade and ended up coasting through to graduation. College was expected and I filled my time by working several jobs to pay for classes I barely passed. Eventually a marriage proposal allowed me to escape from academia.
Then 36 years later I tried school again – this time through online classes. School was a delight and surprisingly easy for me. It made me wonder what could have been said or done to encourage me through 17 years of barely C-level school and what gave me the needed boost to go back to school while working a full-time job and teaching two online classes. Learning for learning’s sake with the carrot of a degree at the end made it exciting. It was also a joy to have validation from friends and family.
Let’s be more of a cheerleader than taskmaster to our school-age children. When’s the last time you told a student how proud you are of how hard they work every day in school. When’s the last time you admitted that sometimes you struggled in math or spelling or geography? When’s the last time you bought a book or a map or picture that coincided with something they were studying and surprised your student with the gift? It worked for me – it could work for them.
And it’s not just school-age children who may need a boost. How about you oldsters? When’s the last time you learned something new? Took a class or read a book about an interest you’ve never explored? Or … maybe you’ve been thinking about finishing that degree or getting a certification — stop thinking about it and do it. It’s back to school time.
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