Tuesday, December 14, 2010

They're Just Teenagers

I had an epiphany the other day. Now maybe it's obvious to others, but it's my epiphany, so allow me to be thrilled. Background: I don't have children. And as such, I'm sure I'm an expert on rearing children (cough cough).

Anyway, in the back of my head, or sometimes out of my mouth are phrases like, "well, in college .... or in your upper level classes ... you'll be expected to ______." or "you need to learn to do ________ by yourself." or "it's up to you to review, you have all the materials; systematically go through them from scratch; you don't need new review material." or "I don't want to baby them and hand hold them through things." With the thought that if I did things for them, and "enabled" them, then they'd never learn to do on their own. Or, I'll do such things for them but have a bad taste in my mouth because I feel I'm doing them a disservice by doing the "heavy lifting".

Then I thought about parenting. Your children don't automatically clean their rooms or cook dinner because "when you're on your own in your apartment, you'll need to be able to do this." They don't notice they have no clothes and then immediately wash a load because "that's what they're expected to do as adults" and parents "won't baby them by reminding them and showing them how and giving consequences if they don't". Parents have to teach such behaviors and tasks.

This makes me feel better about "babying them sometimes" by guiding them on how to do things and "hand holding them", that should just be a given later on WHEN THEY'RE OLDER ... but not now. So if I teach them how to review, and provide them with a guideline or extra practice, or if I discuss strategies of studying without expecting them to be born with the knowledge, or a ton of other things that are learning-related, then that's just a part of growing up.


  1. Have you read "Why students don't like school" by Daniel Willingham. There is a chapter on the difference between how experts think and beginners think. It had much the same message as this post. One of my greatest challenges is realizing that there are stages of learning and most students will have to pass through all of them. Furthermore, students must develop into self guiding, self sustaining learners, they aren't born this way. Guiding them towards this goal is probably our most important task. I am working on getting past expecting students to be able to do things, it isn't easy.

  2. Fall Garlic: Thanks for the book suggestion. It sounds like it has some useful things to say .... amazon.com, here I come.

  3. Fall Garlic: I bought the book you recommended last night, and I love it so far. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Yeah it has been a real eye opener for me. Keep up the good work.