• The Wrong Approach

    Last week the boys got their report cards. Drew’s was fine in all respects, but his teacher had written, “Needs to work on talking in class” at the bottom of the form.

    Bill and I could relate to that. Neither of us was keen on shouting out in class. Drew is by far the quietest of our boys, and it makes sense that he’s not raising his hand even if he knows the answer.

    We had a chat with him and reminded him that he studies hard and does well in school.

    “Don’t be afraid to raise your hand in class,” I told him. “It’s important to participate.”

    “It’s no big deal if you get it wrong,” Bill added. “The important thing is that you try.”

    Drew was looking at us as if we each had six eyes and horns sprouting from our heads.

    “Why are you telling me this?” he asked.

    I showed him the part of his report card that had us concerned.

    “I think my teacher means that I talk with my friends in class too much,” he said, as his face reddened. “We’ve been working on our comic book when we finish our math early and she said we’re disturbing other students even though we were trying to whisper.”

    Oh.

    So then Bill and I gave him an equally heartfelt talk about being quiet in class when it is not appropriate to talk. At that point all three of us were thinking, “Whatever.”

    Meanwhile, Porter loves reading but could not care less about his multiplication facts, especially since he believes a calculator will always be available to him. We’ve preached to him that educated people must know their multiplication facts through the twelves, as that’s what’s required of him in third grade, although I personally have done well in life knowing the facts only through the tens.

    He’s been doing extra practice on his math facts each night, and his teacher was kind enough to provide sheets of problems for him to work on.  The other night he got all of them correct except for 9×3 and 3×9, which he had pegged as 28.

    Bill had him count out three sets of nine, and Porter counted up to 27, but he wasn’t happy about it.

    “This is so frustrating,” he said.  “My head tells me that 9×3 is 27, but my teacher tells me that it’s 28.”  He flopped onto our bed dramatically.

    “Who am I to believe?  Who?” he asked, waving his legs in the air and staring at the ceiling.  “It’s not fair that I have to choose between my head and my teacher.”

    Despite our assurances that his teacher would agree that 9×3 is 27, Porter maintained the opposite, and requested that we email his teacher and set her straight.

    Again, WHATEVER.

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    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Letter From Lisbon

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