Parents often misunderstand cause and effect. Just because a kid is happy, it doesn’t mean she will be when she grows up. We really need to aim at raising happy adults…which leads to a pretty good childhood too!
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
I’d love to hear your comments or answer your questions
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) president, Otis Mathis, admits he can’t write a coherent sentence. He further argues that he is a role model as a leader who can’t write. He’s a math whiz (high school) and can speak cogently…but when it comes to writing, it no worky (see: Otis Mathis Can’t Write)
Now, you may hear a skeptic’s voice in all of this, but my hope is to bolster you as an educator or as a learner. Otis Mathis says he is a role model because he shows that even if you can’t write, you can become a success (a president of a school system, no less).
Clearly there is something wrong with this picture, but what? It is easy enough to say that it would be an even better model if he could learn to write (overcoming the obstacle), however, something is more essential here concerning the future for our children.
Here is the question that needs careful reflection:
Do we pursue our talents or do we bend the world to our flaws?
The move is afoot to bend the world to our flaws. In fact, if you read the articles on Otis Mathis, you’ll find that there are related lawsuits to drop certain competencies for admission in to various academic programs. It isn’t that academia is nuts, but rather that there is a values shift in play. The underlying issue is COMPETENCE v. FAIRNESS. Another version of this dilemma asks if you are SPECIAL or is EVERYONE THE SAME.
The current uproar about healthcare has this issue at the core as well. On some level there is the notion that things should be equal for everyone…and on another level, we all know that only one person can win American Idol.
I remember when our daughter played soccer as a little girl there was no score-keeping by the referees, coaches, or parents (it was seen as wrong and too competitive); except, the girls on the team all kept score!
Here’s the secret: Nature wins out over Culture. The culture says let’s make it fair for everyone. Nature says we are better than others at something. Culture says bring competitiveness down. Nature says you’ll survive with your strengths. Culture says you are a victim who needs help. Nature says your skill will help true victims.
My personal conviction is that Otis Mathis can learn to write (& if he’ll come stay with me for a week I can show him exactly how to connect his speaking to his writing). I have a strength here and I’d love to serve him with it. It was indeed the reason I organized the insights I’ve discovered into The Writing Course.
If you are still helping your children to get educated, please make sure two simple things are in play:
1. They are getting a solid and broad foundation. This hooks their brain together…yes, reading AND writing AND arithmetic.
2. Encourage them to stretch to their strengths. When they pursue their talents they make a contribution…which means they are almost infinitely more employable.
If you are still helping others to get educated at any age…what’s the difference?
You think it takes more, but it really doesn’t. Keep at it…everything is better learned by practice; and, everything that is learned becomes useful. The best examples are those who play to their strengths and serve others with them. Don’t buy the whim of culture…just learn it, or admit it isn’t a strength— no matter what ‘it’ is. Steer clear of trying to bend the world to think you don’t have to be educated to be an educator…it will always smell funny.
Dr. Fred Lybrand
I want to encourage everyone to avoid underestimating the value of feedback in learning anything (especially writing). It is so important that you can simply rest on the fact that without feedback there is no learning. Imagine a golfer NEVER KNOWING where his shot lands, or never hearing a putt go in the hole. Learning the sport becomes impossible. Public speakers almost always improve if they have folks critiquing them (or can watch themselves on video). A singer cannot possibly stay on key (or improve) if she NEVER HEARS her voice or the other instruments. These are all FEEDBACK mechanisms.
Now, since writing is about the scariest thing anyone can do (it is permanent…written…can be passed along), we rarely seek feedback without some significant growing up! Since we are educating our kids, we can just baste (cooking definition) them with it anyway! But, you must do it right (or, at least, right enough).
We have video training for giving feedback in the unique way we’ve designed (for grammar, punctuation, spelling, creativity, etc.), but let me tell you the essentials:
1. Use a RED PEN to mark things your student should improve (correct)
2. Use a GREEN PEN to mark things your student should do more of (encouragement)
3. When making suggestions use these exact words, “Does this sound better?”
4. Don’t overwhelm — Instead, please focus on one or two things at a time until mastered (example: Just work on capitalizing the first word in a sentence if that’s an issue).
P.S. Here’s where to learn more about us: www.advanced-writing-resources.com
From my book…The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change I have a problem with being consistent, and sometimes it’s just because I am too tired. How can I overcome this problem?
Inconsistency and tiredness are usually a sign that your child or children are somewhat “out of control.” I don’t mean that we as parents don’t get tired, but if the state is constant exhaustion, then something surely is wrong. Consistency usually comes when both parents participate in the child training process. With both parents, you are able to keep one another encouraged and accountable. Usually, the problem of staying consistent comes from a parent who is too consumed with meeting the child’s needs and making sure the child “likes” him or her. One of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, has often said,“When you do something for someone when he can do it for himself, then you make an emotional cripple of him: Chances are, unfortunately, that if you are inconsistent, you are somehow being encouraged to be inconsistent and the real learning you (and they) need isn’t happening.
Remember, if you see it, it is encouraged. The best idea I have for consistency is for you to take the Four Magic Questions and apply them to your inconsistency. You may find a very simple solution such as telling your children that every time they get you to do something for them that they can do themselves, you will give them a dollar bill. I suspect, unless you think so little of money, that you will change your consistency problem rapidly.
So…what are your thoughts on Consistency?
Weekly I get a note or a question that sounds like one I received today, “Biggest challenge—being able to correct my student’s writing myself. I know what sounds good, but I am not a writer.” What great honesty, and how common it feels to all who don’t see themselves as writers. If you know what sounds good you are about 80% there already.
Of course, my conviction is that most of the punctuation and grammar training is killer our joy and effectiveness in writing. I feel, sometimes, I’m on a one-man-mission to help people return to the love of writing [you can see my rant against grammar in the article called Why Studying Grammar Hurts Writing].
As a parent you have great motives and surprisingly wonderful insight on your child and his or her writing. Frankly, you taught them to speak…not too shabby for just hanging around and discussing what’s for supper and why the neighbors don’t like you!
Here’s what you can do about correcting a child’s writing:
Well, that’s the idea. You have so much to offer…but really, it is when your child starts correcting him or herself that everything jumps to a new level. In the meantime, you are far more helpful than you think. We even have our own children grade each other from time to time (it’s that helpful)!
Hope this helps,
I started out thinking I might want to explain why all the folks griping about grammar (and punctuation and spelling) on the internet need to relax. Look, I love grammar too (it is so cool to get at meaning / change meaning by looking at how words fit together)…but if your goal is for people to use good grammar, why not use the greatest shortcut available?
The greatest shortcut is our own instinct for language. Here is an example of an article that explain the innate and consistent ‘basics’ of grammar hard-wired into all of us.
It is innate and instinctive…in fact, evolution has a really hard time explaining how a language instinct would ever develop. Pinker even admits that if evolution (gradualism in his view) isn’t true, then there MUST be a GOD! Ockham’s Razor (in my view) also suggests to me that GOD is the answer to this one. He is the simplest explanation. He clearly designed us for communication….which includes grammar, of course.
When students start to discover that they can figure out what is ‘right’ (which means it works / makes sense) with their own internal sense of language–apart from knowing the rules consciously— or they grow a kind of confidence that invites them to see what else can be done with words. Often this same experience blossoms into asking, “I wonder why it works that way?” Getting curious about something one innately knows becomes real motivation that can last a lifetime.
Why not first show a student that he already knows a lot about language…then show him how folks have recorded the rules he already uses?
Of course, reading good material helps us learn in the same way splashing in the water leads to better swimming skills.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Fred Lybrand
P.S. If this was useful, won’t you please share at facebook and twitter to let others know? Thank you!
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