Miracle Monday

Learning is like sweet & salty popcorn

Everything – I won’t be absolute, so let’s call it ‘a lot of things’ – in life require balance. It’s not about one extreme or the other; it’s not about shutting off a person or thing or food in your life to live the perfect life. (Perfect is a myth by the way.) I’m an athlete, and yes my diet needs to be on point, but it also needs balance. I couldn’t eat veggies and protein all day everyday without also including some carbs in there. I couldn’t eat chocolate and sweets all day everyday but I also couldn’t cut them completely out of my diet. I don’t know a single athlete – even Olympic and World Champions – who doesn’t have a ‘cheat’ (I prefer the word, ‘treat’) food at least once in a while.

Anyway I only speak about balance because it’s the perfect combination in life – like sweet and salty popcorn. Before, I thought it was this battle between those who like sweet popcorn (YES!) and those who like salty (bizarre people, whoever you are!). But now I realise it is more complex than that. In fact, no it isn’t even complex – it’s beautifully simple. Like sweet and salty popcorn, you don’t know how good blending and balance is – even for the seemingly trivial things in life – until you put it into practice.

Tyrells snack popcorn

I’m teaching two kiddies at the moment – they’re sisters. One is 4 years old and the other 6. The 4-year-old, let’s call her Lois (not her real name), is a definite left-brained logical; whereas 6-year-old right-brained creative Callie (again, not her real name) wouldn’t know logic if it bit her in the bum (yet!).

And at first I thought, oh my goodness, how is her 4-year-old sister, Lois picking up maths equations, language and processes so much quicker than her? Until finally I saw them as two unique, individual little humans – each learning not just at their own pace, but also with their own brains – that were naturally setup in completely different ways.

So, surely the answer is to find a way to cater learning to Callie’s creative learning system? Yes, to an extent. But that’s not a long-term solution.

The long-term solution is always (most-often) balance. I could try to manage and control her learning program to tailor it to her learning behaviour. On the other hand, I could also relieve the imbalance in her right-brain dominated learning behaviour and slowly build up her ‘logical’, because as much as a I do love working with a good creative student (they have the best imagination and are excellent story-tellers), they’re lack of attention and inability to follow instructions or processes in the same way a logical can would be detrimental to their growth.

using brain

The long term solution is balance. Work both sides of the brain!

And I am in no way saying ‘logical’ Lois is off the hook! In my first week teaching Logical Lois, when I put colouring pencils in front of her and asked her to draw, she spent 20 mins fighting away (unsuccessfully) tears because her lack of creativity held her back so much she couldn’t picture anything to draw. She needed guidance. I initially said, ‘draw anything you like’, thinking her like most children who love to just draw random squiggles and pictures EVERYWHERE. (Until this point I had never considered a child could not love to draw.) But here was one right in front of me, unable to draw because of an imbalance between the creative and logical. Only until I finally realised her torment and guided her to ‘draw an animal’ (still too broad) and then ‘draw a cat or your family’ (success) was she able to put her pencil in hand and draw.

On the other hand, when I give her colouring pencils to colour in patterns on a page, she is in her element. She would sit down for hours (if I let her) to colour neatly, in the lines and with the right colours for each pattern. Creative Callie takes 10 minutes and says ‘finished’ after she has hurriedly coloured her picture with zero thought – simply free-flowing feeling – and then proceeds to turn the page and draw a picture!

Colouring patterns she is in her element!

At first and to be honest, every day and in every lesson I pray for patience and guidance (because Lord knows teaching little humans is challenging), but I thank God for the random bursts of wisdom and insight He brings.

I’ve always held on to the belief that when a child I teach doesn’t grasp something, that is MY error; not theirs. Because a teacher/tutor/educator should be able to express something in a way that anybody – no matter their age – should be able to understand. If I didn’t’ believe this, I may have quit before I started. And I wouldn’t be seeing such wonderful encouraging results each week with these little girls.

So here’s what I want to leave you with:

If you’re teaching and they don’t understand, find another way and then another, and don’t quit until they get it!

I’ve had experience as an educator for almost ten years in 1-2-1, small group and classroom settings. I enjoy teaching & tutoring because it ALWAYS challenges and elevates my thinking. If you’d like to arrange lessons, check out Manchester Tutors.

never give up


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