Saturday, June 13, 2009

Teaching and Learning Our Way Through Life

Funny how we go through life teaching and learning.

I went on a long walk this morning and noticed a dad and his son in their front yard. A lawn mower was idling nearby; the dad was pointing something out to the son as they stood near flowers planted beneath the mailbox. It looked like a mini-lesson in progress. Perhaps the dad was reminding the son not to get too close to the flora. Or maybe he was showing him how to weed that area once he was finished mowing the grass.

As I got closer, I realized the son was one of my students this year. Small world, isn't it?

But it got me thinking. That young man is learning how to take care of his own lawn one day. The dad didn't just say, "go cut the grass, son." He was out there with him teaching him how to cut the grass and take care of the yard.

Growing up, I wasn't taught very much when it came to taking care of a home. I figured out how to clean by watching my mom on Saturdays. She swept, she mopped, she vacuumed. I was given the job of polishing furniture, and I still enjoy doing that today.
But when I moved into my own apartment at age 18, I had no idea how to cook. Not even how much water to put in a pan when heating it to make iced tea. Or how much water I would need to boil potatoes. I had never been invited into the kitchen to help with the cooking; my job was always to set the table.

As a mom, I'm even guilty of giving instructions without actually modeling the activity for my daughter. As a teacher, I should know better! I'll tell my daughter to clean up her room but not tell her exactly what to do. She'll be in her room for hours, music playing or television on. Finally, I peek my head into her room....

"What have you been doing?" I ask as I look around the still slightly-cluttered room.

"Cleaning my room!" she says proudly.

I look around. Yes, the clothes are off the floor. But did they make it to the washing machine or were they tossed into the ever-growing dirty-clothes hamper? The knick-knacks and other memorabilia may be artfully arranged, but did she move them and dust the furniture? The obstacle course may be removed from the floor, but did she vacuum?

Sometimes, we need to give explicit instructions about what we expect. Dust, vacuum, put everything in its place, even if it means a trip downstairs to the laundry room!

When I saw my student and his dad this morning, it reminded me that we're either teaching or learning throughout our life, and it's our responsibility as parents to make sure our children get the lessons they need.

As I dropped my daughter off at a slumber party later, I called out for her to have fun and "behave." Hmmm. I wonder if a teen's definition of "behave" is the same as mine?


miruspeg said...

My favourite subject Roban...teaching and learning and I must say I love the way you have expressed yourself here AND listening to 'Teach your children' while I read...excellent choice.

I had no idea how to "boil water" either when I left home at 17 and still am a bit hazy about how to do it..LOL. But I am really good at gardening as I spent most of my childhood helping my father in the garden growing vegetables and mowing the lawn.

Also to be able to teach children values we need to decide what values are important to us...taking time to really stop and think about values that are important is a great starting point.

Another thought is repeating history that you would like to stop. Cycles can be broken. The nice thing about history is we all can learn from it.

Thanks for writing such a thought provoking post.


miruspeg said...

Just popped back to get the "One Minute Writer" button to add to my blog and noticed your lovely new header.....simply beautiful.

Monica said...

Yes, I think about that also. Does Kman really know what I mean when I say "be careful"? He always knows the right thing to say about what he should and should not be doing. Hopefully he actually does it when I'm not around.

Mummy McTavish said...

I was a well behaved teenager and my deffinition of behave was not the same as my parents.

I often catch myself telling and not teaching. Thanks for this reminder.

Heather of the EO said...

What a great true. I do the same thing, barking orders and not really teaching sometimes. We have our very best days when we do the work together, talking about what we're doing and actually enjoying it. It's so important for kids to learn that everyday work doesn't have to totally stink.

Thank you.

Silver said...

I know. I think we are all guilty in some ways ..because we all seemed to be left with so little time at the end of the day to actually show them the ropes and even to run those tasks with them as part of the real physical bonding.

We all should re evaluate our priorities..good post!

One Day at a Time

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

My Mom was wonderful at teaching me things. I try hard to do the same with my kids. It isn't always easy when life gets busy though is it?