After school today, I taught some voice lessons. I do this almost every day of the week. It's a helpful supplement to our family income and it's an enjoyable chance to work with a student in a more focused way than I am able to when I am teaching a class.
One of my students today was so excited because a friend had taught her how to play "Heart and Soul" on the piano. She wanted to show me and while I watched her, I noticed the look of sheer delight and joy on her face. She sincerely found great joy in what she was doing.
That's one of the reasons I teach--because I like to see those moments when the joy of understanding or comprehension flashes on a face.
Learning, especially in the areas I teach, should be joyful. It should be exciting.
Here's the paradox, though, and the great dilemma. True joy comes only when something has been mastered or understood. And this understanding comes only after practice and work. This often requires nagging and reminding and disciplining. If I let my students do only what they want, they will experience a lot of mediocrity, but no real joy.
So, for my students to experience the joy, I have to be strict with them sometimes. I have to push them and coax them and correct them. Sometimes this seems to take the joy out of it.
As a teacher, then I face these questions: how do I balance rigor and joy? Strictness and fun? Discovery and exploration with practice and precision? These are especially relevant when dealing with middle school students.
It's the same for parents, I think. I don't claim that these thoughts are original or novel. Just what I'm thinking about at the moment.
Are there larger implications here? Something this might tell us about the nature of God and why He does some of the things He does?
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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