Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Compassion and Teaching

This weekend I was blessed to watch an incredible teacher.  I wasn't expecting it, so it was even more refreshing.  My son's violin masterclass had an AMAZING teacher.  I don't teach music and won't ever - but I still took 4 pages of notes on his technique, questions and approach with the children he was guiding.  Wow!

Andrew Kern often talks about analogic thinking - using analogies to help us think more clearly about things.  I saw it in action with this teacher.  He seemed to develop analogies and explanations without difficulty.  He may have had a "bag of tricks" but it seemed so fresh and individual for each student (I watched him work for 15 minutes with 6 different students).  His stories and analogies helped students grasp the abstract concepts they needed to improve their violin playing.  He also had them embody what they were doing with singing, swaying, tapping and other things. I am not sure how that can translate into my everyday world -but I am thinking about it.

All that to say I have been thinking about analogy and when I read this one I was struck:

I know many people whose favorite verses are in Psalm 91 which also features this image of God. This is about extending the compassion of God and being sheltered under his wing - such a different picture of sheltering.  How can I best communicate this compassion and strength of this to my children?

Compassion and curiosity were the two keys to education in his view (we learned during the parent lessons).  He referenced Brenee Brown who places compassion and shame on a scale together.  More shame, less compassion because you have to protect yourself.  He didn't make Christian references but you don't have to look beyond the Garden of Eden to get this!   He also said that now some put curiosity and anxiety on a scale.  So, again, as anxiety increases questioning, wonder, and engagement - all those components of curiosity - decrease.   So helpful to consider.

His final point was about using achievement words versus artistry words.  We filled the achievement column in about 1 minute.  It took 30 grown adults 5 minutes to produce a verb related to artistry that he would accept - play, wonder, imagine, create, etc.  It was SO telling and I was frustrated that it took me a while to switch into that framework - I know better!  Later a friend who was there said that God is first a Creator - so He uses words of artistry first with us.  Once shame enters our vocabulary changes.  I was convicted!!

We are almost finished with Black Beauty and it teaches often about compassion and doing what is right regardless of circumstances.  It is an autobiography of a horse so it gives you a better sense of the helplessness and the mercy that animals are sometimes subjected to.  It might be a bit too direct at times but here is one quick reminder:

See what others are reading at Ladydusk this week.    

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