Let me just say that I cannot convey my excitement about what I’m going to write about today. Really. Effusive.
Felix’s mission these days is to find F’s or f’s wherever he can. Books, t-shirts, restaurant menus, signs/billboards (this activity turns out to be the only pro of gridlocked traffic), EVERYWHERE. At first, he was like, “Where’s the Felix?” – because he IS the F, duh. Totally understandable. Now, he may mutter that phrase under his breath while he’s searching, but he knows the difference and will say “F is for Felix” once he finds one (or many…”of” is a prolific word). It’s the first step, along many, towards learning to read! Amazement!
This amazement leads me down rabbit holes of articles about learning and teaching styles. Philosophies from other countries are particularly fascinating on a general level (which is as deep as I’ll venture…mostly because the word pedagogy is weird). One of the most interesting insights I’ve gleaned is the difference between celebrating the exemplar student v. celebrating the struggling student. I wish that I could find the article right now, but I read something (maybe The Times?) that covered a grade school math class in the U.S. v. a grade school math class in Japan. In the U.S., the teacher called a student up to the board to demonstrate a math skill because it was known that s/he had mastered it. In Japan, the student selected was struggling with the concept, and s/he was at the board on public display working through the problem for as long as it took (it took most of the class). The other students don’t sit and stare – they moved on – but the student stayed at the board until s/he was able to do the math problem correctly, and then the students applauded the effort.
This is grit. This is placing a high value on not giving up. This is something that I want my children to have.
But, as a know-it-all whose palms actually start to sweat and whose face will openly cringe any time someone speaking publicly begins to make an ass out of themselves, having the patience to let someone fail – especially someone I love deeply – is counter-intuitive. Training myself to wait…and wait…and wait….while my almost three-year-old finds the F is very, very good for me. As it turns out, it’s also very, very good for him. His attention span and ability to focus on the task at hand are tested. And, when he finds whatever he was looking for, his smile signals a deep sense of accomplishment. It’s so abundant that it’s like his self pride is lighting the whole room.
Now, this endeavor can only work if he can control his frustration. F is also for frustration. But, we’re both getting there…