Where Do You Learn That?

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.


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