The following post was written for Vancouver Island University’s 5X5X25 Challenge.
My son is two years old. He learns new skills and new words at an incredible rate: yesterday, he pulled on his shoes by himself – today, he asked for chocolate milk and French fries for dinner. (I expect that tomorrow, I’ll hand him the keys to the car and remind him of his curfew.) Hardly a day goes by that I don’t ask him, “Where did you learn that?”
Where does he learn these new skills? Some things he learns from school – the shoes, new words, good manners. Some things he learns from me – an appreciation for fried food and snuggling on the couch. But it wasn’t until asked to reflect on teaching and learning that I realized there was some things that I didn’t want him to learn from me, including how I learned and applied that learning when I was in school.
I wasn’t a poor student. I maintained a B-average until I graduated from college, but I wouldn’t say that I ever made the most of my education. I didn’t take what opportunities were given to me, didn’t think and apply myself more than I needed to. And that was my fault. I don’t regret it, but like every parent, I want more and better for my children. It’s so easy to say, “I want my child to be a good student.” But what does that mean exactly? Good grades? A master’s degree and a high-paying job? Fluency in another language?
As I watch my son develop his muscles, I want to tell him how important it is to develop his brain as well, to think critically and ask questions, especially in school. I want him to flex his problem-solving skills like he’ll one day flex his biceps. I want him to delve into his schoolwork and come out with an understanding of the subject and a desire to learn more. But how do I teach him these things? That’s something that I’m going to have to learn myself.