Stuart's Spectacular Students

This is dedicated to my amazing students. The goal is for each and every one of them to feel unstoppable by the time they walk out of the classroom door for the final time in May. This chronicles their journey; their own Chronicles of Self-Actualization.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Children Don't Listen, They See

I've already written two "Why? I Don't Know" pieces and I could write another today. Why adults and children do what they do seems like a mystery when asked why and the only response is "I don't know". Sometimes it's as innocent and comical as "Why did you cover the tile floor in liquid dishwashing soap instead of washing the dishes like I asked"?

Instead of continuing with the "why's" I'd like to focus on possible answers. This takes a little out-of-the-box thinking but if you stay with me I think it will make sense in the end.

In school, knowledge is not found in books; words are found in books. In science these words are often combined to form definitions of more complex words, like vibrational, continuous and circular motion.

How these words lead to knowledge can happen in many different ways. Our responsibility as teachers is that the learner constructs true meaning and comprehension out of these words that we intend them to.

For Sarah and many others this true knowledge and intellectual wealth comes about by "seeing", in this case, what vibrational motion "is". We stretched a rubber band between two highlighters and took turns plucking the rubber band. As the rubber band vibrated she could see it in action and build a multi-sensory meaning of what it means.

As Mahrukh, Jessica, and Belle watched, they also constructed meaning and created intellectual wealth for themselves. So did Dallas and his observers as he demonstrated continuos motion for them. Mark and I did the same by collaborating on a circular motion game. Most importantly, all these students gained intellectual wealth and marketable skills to survive and thrive in the real world.

But this doesn't happen only in school. At home this is happening all the time, only they are being prepared emotionally to survive and thrive in adulthood. As parents we are responsible for teaching our children the intended meanings of our words. They hear "I love you" but construct what that means from how they see love in action. Does loving treatment follow those words or is it followed by impatience, criticicism, disrepect and phrases like "I don't have time", "Not now" or "I don't care"?

They hear "I promise" and only construct if that word has any real meaning from whether or not promises are kept.

Do they hear us tell "fibs" to others to get out of something we failed to do, don't want to do or avoid the discomfort of being honest with others? Are we unintentionally teaching them it's OK to lie, even to those we "love", as long as we think we have a good reason?

We are teaching our children all the time, more by showing them than telling them. "Do what I say, not what I do" is the unspoken motto of too many parents who have given up having high standards for themselves, yet think they are preparing their children for an emotionally healthy adulthood.

If we criticize, disrespect, break promises and lie to those we love and/or those we don't, it's likely they will too. And as they become teenagers they will probably have no problem doing all the above to us, including saying "I don't have time", "Not now" and "I don't care".

To prevent this, we need to ask ourselves if the words we are using around our children have the meaning we intend? Or are we finding ourselves having excuses as to why our actions differ from that intended meaning? Children learn more from us by what we do than what we say. We should make sure our actions "show" our children what we mean, by meaning what we say. Finding the strength and courage to do this with them means they'll find the strength and courage to do it with us, with others, and most importantly, with themselves.

It's impossible to Dream Big and if we're impatient with our growth and put ourselves down with criticicism or allowing disrepectful treatment from ourselves and others. It is impossible to Do Big when we tell ourselves "I don't have time... to pursue my dreams, be honest in this uncomfortable situation, act respectfully even though I'm angry" or "Not now, I'll do it later" and "I don't care".

Let others in your life "see" you break this cycle, and they learn to break it themselves. Don't break it, and allow them to "see" it as unbreakable. Which is it? Are you unbreakable and unstoppable in getting your dreams and holding yourself to higher standards? Or is the cycle of unhealthiness and unhappiness in your life, in your childrens' lives, in their childrens' lives....unbreakable? Whichever you believe becomes true for you.

"All that we are
arises from our thoughts.
With our thoughts
We create our world."
- Buddha ("The Awakened One")

To Haseeb

I received these comments from one of my students on my "Dear Santa" post. After I responded to him something told me to make it a post unto itself. Although my own mother told me I should be training men in the marines and not children in elementary, this is about love.

Love, real love, can be very powerful; so powerful that IT CAN conquer ALL obstacles. I have had to learn though, from painful and repeated experience, that it takes love from both involved for any relationship to work (I can be a slow learner sometimes, which means if I can learn this, anybody can. Now that I did this while suffering from another concussion from my latest motorcycle accident, none of you have any good excuse).

Love, real love, is a special and truly rare emotion, but only soars within a poet's heart when shared equally between two hearts, minds and souls. It's a committed relationship.

In the student-teacher relationship, it takes the teacher to continue to see the student for everything they could be, should be, and will be, no matter how far away the goal is, or how uncomfortable or impatient it makes you feel in the process. But no matter how hard you try, if the student doesn't believe in and have this love for him or herself, all your efforts will be for naught. There will be no healthy and powerful relationship in the end.

The same can be said for any relationship; parent-child, man-woman, friend-friend, etc. Sometimes the warrior stands alone, and sometimes he or she doesn't. This is a snippet of a real-life, in-process story of two people standing together.

haseeb said...
I dont know if you believe in me but I dream big about myself. And that is all I need for me to be big.

12/07/2006 06:11:36 PM

haseeb said...
When you said in class that I spend to much time trying to be in pictures I was hating you and thinking that i want to transfer to another class at that time but I have been thinking that yes I do waste my time trying to be in pictures. So I have decided that I will learn more and spend less time wasting it.I think like the way you are teaching I wll be big. Also do not think that you are being too hard on us


12/07/2006 06:18:51 PM

haseeb said...
just another chance please

12/07/2006 06:20:10 PM

Adam Stuart said...
Although you did well on the test, it was nowhere near your best. If you're capable of more, it's my job to (1) help you see that and (2)help you get there.

I will never give up on you. You know this every time I celebrate your victories and demand you get up after your defeats.

You're capable of greatness, and I won't let up until you realize it. We have 5 months to make you FEEL UNSTOPPABLE (which I think you do by the way you responded) and BE UNSTOPPABLE (which you aren't yet because you let a test you should have aced defeat you into average performance).

Since YOU ARE NOT AVERAGE, THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. I told you I'd teach you as if you were my own child. But if I find you have talent and/or I like who you are, I'll be available to you forever.

Both have happened. You got me for a lifetime.

12/12/2006 01:33:46 PM
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