After school today I was havinga conversation with the dad of one of my students. We were talking about teaching our kids how to ride bikes. I told him that there was a summer, I think my son was four, where I tried to teach him how to ride on two wheels. We tried and struggled, struggled and tried until finally, by seemingly mutual consent, we gave up and winter came. Fast forward to the next summer. My son asked me to try teaching him to ride on two wheels again. I told him to go and get his bike and wait out on the road of out townhose complex for me. I dutifully got my shoes and sweater on and headed out to give it another shot. As soon as I stepped out of the door I heard my son shouting, “You don’t need to help me anymore Dad, I taught myself!”
He was ready.
We all want every one of our students to produce a series of brilliant masterpieces. However, not all of our students are ready to produce masterpieces at any given moment on any given topic. This is not an indictment of a teacher’s work or a child’s capacity to learn. Sometimes they just aren’t ready.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that anybody does not have the capacity to grow or to learn or to produce a life full of whatever masterpieces they are passionate about. Quite the opposite actually. I am currently reading Carol Dweck’s book called Mindset (which I will talk about more deeply another time) and it has reinforced for me the idea that through time, passion, and perseverance, people can achieve far more than they think they can. Sometimes we just need to be patient with where our students are right now and create an environment where they have time and opportunity to get ready.