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September 12, 2016

Testing Comes Before Learning

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson later.”
(Vernon Sanders Law)

Hey folks, Jenny here (Hal’s my husband). As I’ve started a new school year (I teach 12th grade English), I’ve been reflecting on my daughter’s journey through school. She’s now in college (and currently “studying” in Italy for three months), but I distinctly remember an episode way back in junior high that may be helpful for some of you. Here’s what I wrote back then:

“My child has had a week to write an essay and now she’s frantically throwing something together the night before it is due. She is a creative and talented child, but as you might imagine, the paper she’s now writing is tripe. The parent part of me knows that this is actually a good thing for her to learn. It is a life lesson that we have all tasted in one form or another. The English teacher part of me is literally biting through pencils to hold my mouth shut. What is likely to come out wouldn’t be pretty.

So, I pause. And I think of the quote about experience giving the test first and the lesson later. What do I really want for Hannah? I want her to learn that it is easier on the nerves (and the results are often far better) when you do things before the last minute. I want her to develop a sense of initiative and drive so that she wants to take care of her own business without having to be prodded.

Those things are more likely to happen, however, if I give her loving guidance and direction and then back away. Then she can learn for herself these lessons that only experience can teach her – and my job then is to keep biting on pencils so that I don’t say, ‘I told you so!’”

Peace begins with pause,
Jenny

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