Thursday, February 08, 2007

Learning about being dumb

Can you believe we're STILL trying to get over being sick?? I took Rose back to the dr and he said she was just hanging onto her sinus infection and so she got a lonnnng round of antibiotics. Matthew is still coughing some but he's definitely had the most mild version of this one than any of us...hmmm...maybe his germ-a-phobia is a good thing after all. ;) Hubby and I are still getting over the tail end of it too.

In pregnancy news - I failed my GTT (glucose tolerance test) for gestational diabetes. The good news is that my numbers at home look pretty good so I should be able to control it with diet and exercise and not have to use the insulin shots (yay!). Sciatica still plagues me but I'm surviving and with us being sick, we've been around the house anyway so not much running around.

Post for today...
I have a prenatal water aerobics class that I attend twice a week. I posted about this previously but I really adore this form of exercise. It starts late in the evening though (7:45, which is pretty late for tired pg women) and so Hubby gets time alone with the kids on those nights. Last night as Hubby and I were getting ready for bed, he says, "In case it comes up tomorrow, Matthew and I discussed the death penalty tonight." [insert a shocked look from me, followed closely with a i-knew-it-was-coming-i-just-didn't-expect-it-so-soon look] Rose has been a snit the last few days because after we changed her room with Jade's, she hasn't been sleeping at nap time (her new room is west-facing and quite bright in the afternoon sun). And she's still 3yrs old and needs her nap, as evidenced by her behavior the past few days. Apparently Hubby was explaining to Matthew, who had asked, last night why Rose was in trouble. They got on a topic of 'house rules' (this is the biggest area where we differ from die-hard unschoolers, who don't seem to have any house/family rules) and then they broadened that subject to local and gov't laws and the importance of learning to obey rules. Matthew asked what happened when you broke the law and Hubby eventually talked about the death penalty and the various forms of death penalties such as electrocution, hanging and lethal injection. Now the 'old schoolish Laurie' in me thought, "Lovely. Very lovely images to put in his mind, especially just before bed. WHY on earth does a 6yr old need to know specifics? Great kindergarten curriculum. I would have answered his questions in concepts and left details for when he's older." Then suddenly 'unschooling Laurie' thought, "But Matthew wanted to know the why not tell him? We like to answer questions as they come up and we try not sugar coat things." In the end, I agreed with the unschooler and agreed with the way Hubby had answered it. He said they discussed it until Matthew said, "OK Daddy, can we read the story now?" So his curiosity was throughly satisfied and he was bored with the topic and ready to move on.

This got me thinking - perhaps the reason why kids seem to zero in on some concepts/ideas is because it's never fully explained to them. I know that taking your kids to the grocery store is a stressful event...I know it *very* well as I have three children 6yrs and under. You're inundated with "can I have that's" to "oh don't forget I need such-and-such for school/group/etc." and distractions, especially if your grocery list is in your head, aren't fun. So this is probably a bad example but...I have heard so many parents around me in stores who give their kids half-answers or talk to them like the kids should be ashamed they're so stupid.

The other day, a mom was in front of me in line at the checkout at a craft store. Her son, probably no more than 8, was staring at one of those small make-it-yourself kits in his hand with a gleam in his eye of expectation. Innocently he asked, "But Mom, how does it stay together?" Mom, in her hastiness, says, "It just DOES," like he was the dumbest child to ever walk the face of the earth. The gleam suddenly changed to shame and when they got to the checkout, he threw it up on the belt with a look of 'who cares anyway?'. I would imagine that he had absolutely no interest in that project (or possibly any other similar project) from that moment forward.

I know we all have these 'mom moments' when the last thing on earth that we want to do is take a couple minutes to explain that we'll put glue here and here and a wire through here to hook onto this and that's how it will hold together - because, as moms, we know that there are very likely to be more questions following that. "It just DOES," seems a fast simple response when we just don't have time for a ten minute conversation. But watching the gleam of excitement and wonder in his eyes totally disappear in her one response made me really sad for that boy. And I hope I remember his face the next time I feel too rushed for a good answer.

Perhaps a better example...
I never cared much for math in elementary school. I didn't hate it or have a hard time understanding it - I just didn't see much need for it in my life and therefore didn't like doing the work. But when I got to high school and went into my pre-algebra class, I was totally lost. I had absolutely no idea what these abstract X's were. I literally could not wrap my head around it. I remember coming home and asking my mother for help. She has always been a math-a-phobe and directed me to my father. My father didn't have much patience and being an engineer, probably couldn't even fathom how I couldn't understand a simple 2x=14 equation. Nevertheless, I didn't grasp the concept at all. His lack of patience and my getting more frustrated and wanting to give up finally resulted in me standing in the corner, crying over how dumb I was, while my father repeated "if 2x is 14, what is one x?". He might as well have been speaking in a foreign language. While my father obviously wasn't a great teacher, I certainly learned something that night. I learned that I was downright dumb when it came to math. I proceeded to really struggle through every single algebra class through school and even had to repeat Intermediate Algebra in college. I detested anything to do with math and even on concepts that I did understand, I did barely enough to 'keep my mom happy (meaning a grade of C)'. Geometry however, was different. I had a teacher who LOVED her work and it probably helped me tremendously that geometry is visual - I could SEE what she was explaining. I actually ended up loving my geometry class, making an A in it (and actually doing extra credit for FUN), and was sad that I couldn't keep learning that instead of the required dreaded algebra.

Would I like algebra if I'd had a better teacher or understood the concept right away? Who's to say? Maybe, maybe not. But I did 'learn' that I was dumb in algebra and gave up on it that night. I did as little as possible to squeak by and that's probably why I had so much trouble with it in college. I know now that I'm not dumb in math and, if I applied myself, I could get through a college level algebra book fairly easily. But why? It's not like I use it...but that's another post and this one is long enough. ;)

1 comment:

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

I read your blog and thought I would give you a Great Story, that changed my mind about the Death Penalty - Great Book discussion to have with hubby. "Journey Toward Justice" Changed my mind about the Death Penalty. A Book Recommendation: This is the Companion book to John Grisham's The Innocent Man, Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz. Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the Triumph of the human Spirit and is a Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. Dennis Fritz was the other Innocent man mentioned in John Grisham's Book which mainly is about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's co-defendant. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. Read about why he went on a special diet of his while in prison, amazing and shocking. Dennis Fritz's Story of unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction needs to be heard. Look for his book in book stores or at , Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz, Publisher Seven Locks Press 2006. .
Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975 by a deranged 17 year old neighbor. On May 8th 1987, Five years after Debbie Sue Carter's rape and murder he was home with his young daughter and put under arrest, handcuffed and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. After 10 years in prison he discovered The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization. With the aid of Barry Scheck and DNA evidence Dennis Fritz was exonerated on April 15,1999 Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns and now on his Journey Toward Justice. He never blamed the Lord and solely relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.