One thing is certain, no one knows it all

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woman homeschooling child

Shout out to everyone trying to educate our nation’s young during a pandemic. Teachers, parents, in school, online school, home-school, screaming out your frustrations on the front yard at midnight — whatever works. You all have my sympathy.

I still bear the emotional scars of my mother attempting to teach me grade school mathematics. I am sure she does, too. My mother has a lot of wonderful qualities. Teaching is not one of them.

I am certain she doubted I would ever learn to make a change after it became apparent that even my first-grade “penny, nickel, dime” worksheets were challenging.

Reinforcements

As time went on my great-grandmother, an actual teacher, was called into service. She taught me how to get the correct answers, but I did not “show my work” via the methods of the 1970s (versus the 1920s when she had taught). I think my math worksheet was the one and only bad grade my great-grandmother ever received.

I have written in the past of my own problems with a “frog math” worksheet circa GirlWonder’s second-grade year. Let’s just say that by age seven, she had learned not to ask me for help with her math.

No patience

All of this is to say that while I think I am a passably intelligent person (stop laughing), I know I am not cut out for teaching. I have no patience. In my school, I’m going to tell you one time how to do something and I expect you to get it. No questions asked. If you don’t then maybe it’s just not yours to understand.

On the other hand, if I don’t understand, something then obviously it is simply unlearnable. End of discussion.

Play to your strengths

“Reading, writing, and arithmetic” are obviously not my teaching forte. I would like to consider the possibility of being able to help in more esoteric ways. I think we should play to our strengths.

I legit have no idea if kids are still taught to square dance? I do know it was a fundamental part of my physical education years. We “do si do’d” around the gym many an afternoon.

To date, I have been called upon to square dance exactly never. I hope I have not lost my highly honed grade school “partner swingin'” skills. It was the only thing I ever did passably well in gym class. I can brush up if this is necessary.

If I was in charge of educating children at home they would be very, very well versed in reading, history, creative writing and snacks. There would be no algebra, geometry, trigonometry and nothing even remotely resembling the sciences.

There might be arts and crafts, but they will not be any good unless the children are natural savants. I make a mean stick figure, and that’s about where my artistic talent ends.

Admitting our limitations

I think the key to getting through this is to admit none of us know what we are doing. Whether a professional educator or a parent juggling roles, most of us have discovered that we cannot “do it all” during these unprecedented times. We don’t even know what all of it is!

Balancing teaching and working and learning and staying healthy and getting enough sleep and not going completely stir crazy and/or freaking out over the daily news is a full-time job.

If you don’t have the time you need to work in quantum physics, I think the world will just have to understand.

In the meantime, we all need to remember to stay teachable and never stop learning. We don’t know everything. At any age.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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