Monday, November 12, 2012

Wind sprints

These two photos

I've been going along with Si to do his wind sprints (which reminds me: Si has started working on track stuff again, in response to parental pressure to DO SOME KIND OF EXERCISE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) and whatever we are doing must be working, because my legs are SORE. And I say this as a lifetime runner. A lifetime slow runner, but still. The two of us are improving.

pretty much sum him up right now. Especially if one involved guns and/or gaming.
It's been making me think about one of our perennial frets about Si - that he doesn't work at things - and trying to reconcile it with this idea that kids know how they themselves learn best and will show you (by learning that way) if you are willing to watch.

It's an idea about which I'm skeptical but which I can't seem to put down, especially since it hits a harmonic resonance in my own personal philosophy, which is that a kid's job is to grow up and a parent's job is to help them do that - to help them become the person they're supposed to be. Which, since none of us can see the future, involves a lot of observation. The watching, in this philosophy, is more critical than the shaping or correcting.

So when he wakes up at 7 a.m. and immediately, before breakfast, starts pinging around on his iphone game collection, is his future self crying out for discipline and correction, or should I observe this learning style objectively and let it go unremarked?

[Note: it did not go unremarked. I told him to turn the phone off. "No faaaair!"]

When I see on the class calendar that there's an algebra test coming up next week, should I say something, such as, for example, "Yes to the playdate but only after you've done some problem practice for your test," - or is that just indoctrinating him in the test-based education model, which will teach him to be helpless in the face of his learning needs unless he is preparing for a test?

[Note: I told him to practice for his algebra test. He doesn't have a study worksheet, so he went online and found practice problems in the subject area. Not a bad use of initiative and problem-solving skills, even if it is in service of doing really well on tests.]

It's a dilemma. He's smart. He's conscientious. He loves to be seen as smart and successful and wants, like most kids, to be rich (riiiiich!) And nine times out of ten he will shrug and give up when faced with a task requiring complex effort. He's designed to fall for get-rich-quick schemes, I sometimes think, and it seems criminal of me as a parent not to counteract this tendency - by proselytizing for the good old Protestant work ethic, by inculcating good study/ life habits, by limiting noneducational monitor time, by saying, as our personal daily mantra, "not until you've finished ___."

 Well, okay, fine, if you put it like that. However, other times I think what I'm really doing is wanting him to be a different sort of person: a quester and a researcher, a searcher after truth. I don't want him to just study for the test: I want him to ruminate on the meaning of the problems, and why we do math, and what is life all about, anyway? But he's really more of a life is good, let's finish this up and break out the beer kind of a guy. An efficient worker, one who, like myself, prizes his downtime, his home life, his quality of life (and thus the quality of his monitor graphics). He likes to bake, read quality escapist lit, pit his wits against the computer game and curl up by the fire: he's a hobbit, not a wizard. Is that so wrong?

No, of course not. Not wrong at all. Just...

...and here's where I start to see a problem in my approach. I've never been particularly interested in parenting books, but I'm suddenly checking them out in stacks, hoping to come up with a useful set of standardized rules that I can quick substitute in when my aspirational parent starts to say, well, shouldn't he be....?

Because the answer is no. He shouldn't be. He is who he is. And thank the stars above for my sweet, prickly, stubborn mid-size guy who only occasionally points his nerf gun at me and pretends to fire.

1 comment:

Alien in CH said...

You really should move here. Our sons could run while shooting at each other and then play some Minecraft. We could visit Sweden and discuss how difficult it is when our children aren't like us. And when they are.