Friday, February 17, 2012

Shark Girl Tries to Justify Her Losses

Some time ago I gave a pop quiz. The day before in class we had worked on some grammar. For homework, I asked students to review it. The next day I gave a pop quiz. Afterward, a student said, “I never expected that.”
“Really? I dropped big hints that I was thinking about giving a pop quiz. Did you review for homework?”
“No, I didn’t, because I never expected that.”

I was discussing with my colleague how frustrating it was when students expected to actually learn without putting forth effort. I have heard students sigh, “I failed again,” after admitting that the only studying they did was during lunch . . . for ten minutes . . . at a table crowded with friends and Cheetos. Let me restate that: I have heard students sigh, “I failed again,” while they lament how horrible it was for them because they studied so much . . . for ten minutes . . . during lunch . . . at a table crowded with friends and Cheetos.
Colleague and I went on to talk about how the best students often aren’t the most gifted ones; they are the ones who work hard. They do their homework every night. When these students don’t understand something, they don’t accept it. They ask questions. In a group, they don’t spend ten minutes talking about their weekend and when their teacher comes in earshot say, “Okay . . . number three. . . .” Sometimes these students earn an honest B or C instead of the A. But they stand out to the teacher as having dignity, motivation, integrity. And while their knowledge may be hard-fought, it is theirs entirely and it is hard-lost.

Watching these students has informed my jiu jitsu practice. I am not the best practitioner. But I strive to go regularly, to ask questions, to try hard. I know I never will be (at my age!) the best jitser, and I don’t care. I’m not going to win at Mundials. That’s not the point. Although I sometimes feel like my knowledge is hard-fought and easily-lost, Shark Girl is trying to learn, and that’s a very different thing from winning.


10 comments:

  1. So your colleague and yourself feel that the kids who go home and teach themselves are the best? I guess that is the best for you two! :)

    Given all the time the kids spend in class, don't you think they should be able to learn enough without cutting into their "home" ( ie, family, friends, play ) time? and if they can't learn all they need to in the time you have with them.... why is that?

    imagine if you spent that amount of time at jitsu, would be good to take a good break from it all and refresh before classes the next day :)

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    1. For one, it is possible that these students aren't putting the effort in during class either. It takes two to tango. A teacher can only do so much.

      For two, the value of education and a drive to work hard are things that are largely learned at home (but also personality based). The kids should know that it is about doing your work even if it's hard or if you simply don't want to.

      As a kid, I remember working to figure things out, knowing that I can learn it if I do some extra work (even extra time spent with a teacher on his own time), believing that I can do anything if I try hard enough, and knowing when I didn't put in the work like I could have (if I wanted to). Pretty sure that is what Shark Girl is talking about. How are those not traits you would want your children to have? A teacher can't really teach those things, can they?

      Also, just FYI, the smiley faces don't veil how insulting your comment is. Maybe you should have a discussion with your kid's teacher(s)/principal if there is an issue with their workload, which I certainly believe is possible, instead of commenting on an anonymous blog.

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    2. Shark Girl is on vacation and will comment upon her return.

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    3. Hi Keith, thank you for being patient.

      If you were just dropping a troll and have disappeared, SG is too tired and busy to respond.

      If you are still reading, but just dropped a troll, you can say, "I just dropped a troll. Peace out, SG. I know you're busy, so you don't have to respond."

      If you are still reading and are really interested in what I think, you can say something like, "I'm still here and I really want to know what you think." I will be happy to respond.

      Cheers! SG

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  2. Another wonderful post, Shark Girl. I have always been good at putting the effort in and was always confused by those who didn't. I do not consider myself particularly smart; I was just really good at putting in the time and making sure I answered all the questions. It's what I try to do with BJJ now. I sure as hell am not a natural, but I work hard. That's all I can do!

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    1. There has been research done that after a certain point, intelligence makes no difference at all...it contributes to only 15% of people's success. After that, it's all grit--stick-to-it-iveness. I'm sure my statistics are off, but you get the point. If I weren't being so lazy I'd look up a link for you.

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  3. I know how you feel, Shark Girl. It's all about the journey at our age and possibly without any native ability! I just wish I had someone within walking distance who wanted to train. :( xoxo

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    1. Definitely! Not even at our age, but really throughout life, imho. Wish I were within walking distance...I'd train with you!

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  4. "Hard-fought and easily-lost" is a good way to put it. The learning curve is steep enough for a young natural let alone a non-natural of a Certain Age (pronounce that aaaaahzh). As a lifelong autodidact and homeschooling parent, I applaud your sentiment that learning only BEGINS in the formal educational setting. That sort of learning is also a formal manifestation of learning. We should all be learning all the time. If learning is something he has to take a rest from, I feel sorry for that Keith dude.

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  5. I totally agree. That's one of the reasons I started jiu jitsu. If I'm not learning, I might as well be dead or a machine.

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