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Cries for help

Watching a group of fifth graders struggling with math, I wonder if it’s possible to over-teach. Some teachers leave instructions not to assist students with their calculations and I always wonder why.

One of my students today has labeled herself as ADHD, offering it as an explanation for her challenges with fractions. For those unfamiliar with that acronym, it represents Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder. The manifestations of it are difficulties with paying attention, hyperactivity, lack of focus and interrupting others. According to the scientists, it can last for years or be lifelong.

Is it better to watch kids such as this ADHD student hit intellectual brick walls or offer some direction and support? There are at least two distinct methods of analyzing the subject.

Sometimes these ADHD students use the acronym as an excuse rather than an explanation. What exactly does tagging yourself with initials have to do with desire to learn and determination to focus?

Because I seldom get to know any of my students on a long-term basis, I don’t observe all of their behavior. Maybe said child really doesn’t have ADHD. What if she’s intellectually lazy and the teacher doesn’t want me to feed that laziness by providing too much information?

This argument reminds me of the concept of loving a child too much. Is it possible to do so? And in this case, isn’t there a way to end of the frustration of a struggling student without prolonging a habit or doing too much teaching?

Ultimately, I adhere to the teachers’ guidelines by my definition of not providing answers to problems. But if I am to function as an educator, my mission is to educate, not to observe.

Encouragement, suggestion, commendation and compliments are all part of the education process. Great educators don’t provide answers – they furnish methodologies and fundamentals with which to find those solutions. More importantly, they assure students that they are fully equipped to find their intellectual footing. Shalom.

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