Last week, my 3.5 year-old daughter, Maddie, came home from school very upset! She climbed on my lap and held her head down low. In a quiet and meek voice she explained, “Mama, I don’t wike school. I don’t wike gym… Miss H. yewwed at me. She say I can’t touch the liar farm.”
Me: “You mean the fire alarm?”
Maddie: “Yeah, the liar farm. Miss H scared me!”
Me: “Oh, honey, I bet you were scared! But you do have to be very careful with the fire alarm. You can only touch it if there iiiis… a what?”
Maddie: “A farm.”
Well, uh, no. Not a farm. Oh, how do I explain… ?
I see both sides of this situation. Miss H certainly didn’t want the whole school evacuated because Maddie touched the fire alarm. Maddie, on the other hand, was rightfully scared by Miss H’s reaction.
If the children had been taught to avoid the fire alarm when there is no emergency, this may never have been an issue for Maddie. But, it is so hard to identify everything that we should be explicitly teaching our students.
Our fabulous Operations Manager, Chrystal, learned a different lesson the hard way. As a junior in high school, she was struggling to pass classes. Mid-way through the year, she dropped out of school. Fortunately, minimum wage jobs convinced her to return as a senior. Determined to graduate with her class, she then faced a double course load. Overwhelmed, she knew she had to do something different to pass her classes.
Her instinct told her to try the planner passed out by the school each year. After three years, she still didn’t know how to use it. “My friends and I all thought that they were just for bathroom passes!” she explained. “We seriously didn’t know what else to do with them!”
Chrystal’s instinct proved correct. She taught herself how to use a planner to keep track of assignments and test dates. Before she knew it, she earned straight-As that year… and graduated with her class.
Obviously, I’m proud for her and so thankful she found a path that led her to SOAR®. But, it would have been nice for her if she didn’t have to enroll in the School of Hard Knocks before learning what to do with that planner.
What Else Are We Missing?
My eight year-old son likes to think that cleaning his room is shoving everything in his closet. Our education system does the same thing to our students… shoveling nothing but content at students.
Just like my son, however, students can’t “find” information when they need it. They do not know how to organize that information or retrieve it for later use. In fact, the required K-12 content shovels so much at students; they never learn most of it in the first place.
No one has ever taught students how to…
· Read a text-book strategically.
(Hint: Reading the actual text in a text-book is *not* the way to do it.)
· Learn something, instead of memorize it.
(Learning is much easier… and more enjoyable!)
· Really organize notes for a research paper.
(It’s actually quite easy… when you know how to do it.)
· Use “texting” language, and an extra fold in their paper, to take great notes in class.
(Texting is the greatest thing to happen to note taking!)
· Pay attention in class.
(Yes, it is possible!)
· Properly organize their papers.
(A separate folder and separate notebook for each class only make the problem worse!)
· Set goals for themselves.
(Versus goals that are set for them.)
These skills are about: accessing information, organizing it, tracking responsibilities, and retrieving information later, when needed. These are study skills and they are necessary to be successful in school now. They are the study skills needed to be successful in college. And, these study skills translate into “must have” skills in the workplace.
How about teaching them how to learn? As our Information Age doubles the amount of new information every 48 hours, much of the content we shovel at our students will be outdated before they even graduate.
Don’t let your children and students get caught like poor Maddie, with her hand on the fire alarm, about to cause all kinds of chaos. Arm them with the skills they need to make order out of life’s’ chaos, so they can grow to be happy and successful adults.