In the last letter we looked at the fact that FRUSTRATION is a big part of learning, but becoming a good learner isn’t just about overcoming frustration. There is a second thing that explains what makes a good learner.
What is the One Word that Explains Why Some People Are Learners and Some People Are Not?
It’s definitely not the word intellect!
There are bright people who don’t learn and average people who go on from learning to learning. If you’ll just pay attention to yourself you can figure this one out! When have you learned your best? What was the subject? Why were you so interested? Do you think this is any different for children or adults?
My guess is that you are thinking you were ‘interested’ or ‘entertained’, but neither of those explain it. Let me give you a personal example. I used to hate music…and I hated musicals even more! The Sound of Music honestly used to wig me out…but today I love musicals (I’ll tell you why in a moment). Now, I’m not trying to tell you a secret for liking things you hate, but rather to learning things that don’t interest you. More importantly, this can a big difference with helping your children learn.
What is the secret? Well, in the last post we discussed the fact that FRUSTRATION is a key. Of course, it’s true–unless a student learns to tolerate frustration, there isn’t much of a chance to learn. Instead, they’ll just blame the teacher, the system, or ‘the man’ (whoever that is in each context). While learning to tolerate frustration in order to learn is important, it isn’t the reason some of us learn things and others don’t.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to change how you feel about a subject so you could immediately and joyfully begin to study it? Well, it isn’t only possible, it is likely, if you’ll make use of this one word:
Learning always involves curiosity (the exception might be when fear is forcing someone to learn something he otherwise isn’t interested in).
Curiosity draws us along as learners. It adds intrigue and mystery and hope to the effort. If you are curious, then you have the energy to satisfy that curiosity. You want to know (learn) because that is where satisfaction is…not knowing (learning) is dissatisfaction and angst (the good kind).
With music (and musicals) and me , one day I asked a new question, “Why do so many people like musicals, The Sound of Music in particular?” So, armed with that question I found the answer… a part of which, is that you must realize the movie’s ‘universe or world’ isn’t the same as our own. The rules are different there so people can break out into song to communicate (yes, I was missing this point). There are other reasons, but I’ll leave that to your own curiosity.
Make it Useful
OK, so Dr. Lybrand, what do we do with this info? Well, if you are a teacher of any kind (and especially if you homeschool), then why not invite more curiosity in your students? I did not say ‘make it more interesting’ here. How could you make curiosity happen? The easiest way is by asking questions. Specifically, something like, “Who…what…when…where…why…how.” Or, “What would you like to know about this?” Who would learning this subject help? How does this work? Why is studying this subject valuable? Where will you use this if your really learn it?” It’s even better to think of your own ways!
Well, you get the idea. Here’s where to start— Start with being curious about helping others get curious about their own learning. If you get curious about learning and teaching…you’ll figure it out.
How do I know? Well, you’re curious aren’t you?
You can’t really influence your kids, it’s all genetics…so have more and enjoy them!
A new book by Bryan Caplan is well-intentioned; he wants parents to lighten up, have more kids and enjoy the ride (because you aren’t in control).
Here are a few excerpts from Caplan’s book:
All of those “life lessons” we teach our kids? Don’t really matter, says Bryan Caplan.
All those talks about morality, and right versus wrong? Again, Caplan says, doesn’t really swing the pendulum either way.
“The idea that it’s the way that we are raising our kids that causes them to resemble their parents is mostly an illusion. Again, if no child was adopted, it would be hard to tell this.”
Caplan believes we as parents spend too much time worrying, fretting, and picking apart our parenting styles. He advises us to relax, be selfish, have more kids, enjoy them, and enjoy the ride.
“I cannot responsibly offer any guarantees, but still, the odds are good that your child is going to turn out to be just like you when he grows up.”
Of course, it is a silly proposition that is simply fatalistic. Genetics is an influence, but it isn’t a god. Environment is an influence, but it isn’t a god either. Caplan say that no one challenges him with data (he has flawed twin studies in his back pocket as proof.
I’ll say I’m proof. I come from generations of alcoholics on both sides of my family…but I am not an alcoholic. Oh…it could be a recessive non-alcoholic gene! We had 5 children who slept through the night from 6 weeks old and onward…5 in a row (what are the genetic odds?). You see, this is called unfalsifiable position, which means there is no way to prove it wrong. Of course, if you can’t prove it wrong, you can’t prove it right. It is easy to find credible sources challenging the validity in the twin studies: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=A0BDE8276F7814C3B660A475D5CACCCA.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=31667 .
In a way it is like Skinnerism– You have no control, no real will, no influence, and no learning. The Scriptures wouldn’t support it, nor does philosophy, or common sense. It seems the nature of humankind is to seek out and find excuses. If you are a victim then you must be a victim….but before you laugh at Caplan, how about what we do say about IQ and alcoholism, and ADHD. Are we really without choice?
Caplan wants to let parents “off the hook” by realizing they have far less influence than they think (and can take less credit). Of course, he is stripping credit from the individual for life choices. Moreover, following his premise…not much you can do about people at work either (or your cell-mate in prison). You get the point.
What a destructive idea in parenting…in one moment of deifying the human gene, we disempower both parents and children. Not me.
The Bible puts it this way:
…a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15b)
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17)
I’d love to here your thoughts…and share this…let’s have a conversation,
Dr. Fred Lybrand
Well, it really is shock news to some folks out there. What an amazing world we live in where we have to be reminded that children both need, and appreciate, boundaries. Stacy Hawkins Adams give us some good thoughts about this very point concerning teens (youth) and the s__ topic. Here’s her article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Of course, you don’t have to read the article to start making sense of the issue [the original article has disappeared, but I liked this one as well. Point #10 talks about being your child’s ‘best friend’ as it relates to permissiveness & is pretty much spot on!]. How often have we found folks in our own anecdotal experience to have simply yielded-to-and-indulged to a point that the child grows up to demand the entire world indulge him or her?
The truth is, we can be spoiled as human beings (we can also be horrible over-controlled as well…but a counter-excess isn’t the answer to an excess). In fact, this is a nice way to think about it:
How would you go about spoiling a person?
Hyper-permissive theories actually have no way to deal with the notion of spoiling a child; they sort of think you ‘can’t really spoil’ a child. And yet, haven’t we seen children who are simply rude and disrespectful toward others… awfully demanding their own way in the moment? Is this your child?
Life, as it turns out, takes you on a field trip for what you don’t learn at home. As a result, not mentoring your child to interact properly with others is actually a kind of abuse (in my way of thinking). How will it be someday when an employer tells the little darling, “No.” Will your child pitch a fit? Will he plot against the boss?
It is clear that human beings are naturally self-interested, but there is something misguided when we become self-absorbed. The culture these days (and the parenting mistakes it escorts) is largely against the use of the word NO. And yet, the studies are relentless in showing the importance of developing self-restraint and health when NO is a part of the conversation. Children have to learn lots of things…sharing, waiting, and cooperating are all a part of the material. Especially waiting (in many ways) for the commitment of marriage is strategic for healthy families.
Here’s a simple exercise that could make a difference:
1. Think about how you would intentionally TRY to spoil a child.
2. Ask yourself if you are doing any of these things…
3. Courageously ask your friends and family their opinions of your parenting.
These things will give you feedback (they may be wrong 🙂 that you can use to consider in improving your own approach to parenting.
Remember…the goal is to grow up a happy adult…it isn’t to try to make a child happy all the time.
As one comment says in the article above… “I’m tired of parents not parenting, but instead trying to be their child’s best friend.” Oddly enough, that turns out to be a serious issue. Perhaps will look at it in more detail soon.
Here’s a sample of the ideas contained in The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without) on time management
…this is important for every child to understand and learn!
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