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Moments of Understanding

February 14, 2015

Recently, I experienced two “moments of understanding” that will affect my approach to the classroom.  They both happened over the last three weeks.  I understand, as many do, that a student’s background will affect their connection to the curriculum.  That is nothing new.  But, sometimes, as is the case with my recent experiences, the extent of that disconnect is hard to see.

Example 1: Over the last few weeks, we have been discussing the American Revolution and the formation of the United States.  George Washington, for obvious reasons, was a big part of our conversation.  In my mind, I felt the students should easily understand the concept that George Washington is the “Father of our Country”.  He was a strong leader, the first President and a principal character in the founding of our nation.  Given his moniker, I compared George Washington to fathers and their traditional household role.  I did this countless times until one student awoke me from my ignorance.  This student politely said to me, “George Washington is like my mother.”  I sat back and internally asked myself, “how can I be that disconnected from my students?” I needed that “moment of understanding”.

Example 2: I was putting my middle child, 5, down for bed a few nights ago, and she made a statement that has stuck with me.  That night, she wanted me to come in and tuck her back in bed before I went to sleep.  She asked, “when are you going to bed?”  I told her I would be in bed by midnight.  Then the “moment” happened.  She said, “when your phone strikes midnight, come and tuck me in”.  Wow.  To her, my phone is my watch.  I wear a watch a few days a week but I almost always check my phone for the time.  Even though this is true for many of us, analogue clocks are still a part of the math curriculum.  Regardless of your feelings about the necessity of learning how to tell time on a traditional clock, it is undoubtedly true that her generation will be disconnected from the standard.

I enjoy these types of moments.  They help me in the classroom and at home.  Do you have any similar stories?  If so, I would love to hear them.

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