17 June 2011

True Learning

It's math time and I'm working with the eight year-old.  In the middle of the lesson his little sister comes to share yet again how awful her sniffles are.

The math-learning boy looks at her and tells her his are worse.   Plus he's got a scratchy throat.  She's not believing it, and attempts to convince him that her plight is truly more difficult.

My patience level is low and I want to get the lesson finished.  It's too nice to be in the basement working and before I know it I'm impatiently snapping at them both.

But quickly I stop, for I'm learning that the anger emotion can be a check engine light.  And just for fun I speak my thoughts out loud, for sister and brother to hear.  "This is not an emotional problem.  It is something we can learn about together.  I refuse to allow anger to run this situation."

They look at me bewildered and I smile, start again.  We spend a few minutes thinking about the possibilities of entering each other's skin.

What if I could get inside Raleigh's body and feel how scratchy his throat is?
What if I could truly sense just how stuffy Noelle's nose is?  

But we can't.  We can feel our own stuffy nose and hope the other person doesn't have to have one as bad as ours.  We can understand what they're going through and help them out.

We laugh, we talk, we understand.  We to some degree sense the absurdity of comparing our lot with another's.

And as we resume our math and finish our school work I wonder....

Which learning was more significant?  To tell time to the minute or learn the value of empathy?


p.s...looking for a fun summer read with children?  We fully enjoyed The Search For Delicious (checked out at the library) by Natalie Babbitt last year...would recommend for five or six years old and up.  We still talk about it...wars being fought over the definition of delicious!