Thursday, March 19, 2015

Giving Up

This post is dedicated to my kind-hearted teacher Patience Blythe  who encourages me and helps me through the rough spots.

"I'm getting bored with Reading and Writing.  I'll do anything easy." 

Sometimes we have to put ourselves in a position of learning something new to remember the struggles that some students face each day.  For most children the process of learning to read takes some effort and sustained attention.  It is attending to meaning and the patterns within words and structure of connected text.  It is practicing the acquisition of strategies over and over and utilizing flexible problem solving.  One has to be on their game and sustain some effort with a kind teacher nearby.

My student who didn't think she could read the whole book did.  I told her my story.  I hope that it helped.  Below is a long version:

Since September I have been spending a few hours a week learning the art of Metal Smithing.  Just having to learn how to use a blow torch without freaking out was a struggle.  Gripping the cold metal in my hand, I would routinely take some breaths to calm my fear.  My father spoke to me, "You're going to burn your eye brows off.  It's going to explode!  Something bad is going to happen."  This took weeks of consistent effort and positive self talk to overcome.  

Creating wearable jewelry from wire and flat metal really isn't the easiest thing to do.  Sometimes I become impatient with myself and my inability to conceptualize things spatially.  Sometimes I get frustrated when my hands are not strong enough to pry a piece of metal from each other.  Sometimes I just want to be done with a project.  It takes too long and it requires too much effort.  

Last night, sitting at the work table I began to craft a third attempt at creating prongs to hold an intricate piece of coral.  Using pliers I curved the wire around the bottom of the coral.  I examined the shape of the coral and tried to duplicate it by bending some metal.  I just couldn't get it right.  "Too small," my teacher advised, "Try again!"

"Again?" I complained in a voice much like a 14 year old.  I wondered if I was invested in this piece enough to work through the tough parts.  I tossed the wire to the side and announced, "I'm done for the night. I don't want to do this."

I sat.  Silent.  There were no other projects pending.  I was at a loss.  If I didn't pick up the wire again and work through it, in the end I wouldn't have a ring-a finished product.   

Determination appeared from somewhere. I can't give up just because the process is hard.  Something new is bound to be challenging.  Last night I left the studio with a set of prongs; that much closer to a finished ring. 

My young reader seemed fascinated to know that I too had struggles and frustrations learning something new.  In the end, I didn't give up and neither did she.

1 comment: said...

I think it is so important that we tell kids about our struggles - both past and present. I remember as a kid just feeling like other people had things come easy to them, and didn't understand why things had to be hard. I didn't have the patience for it. I'm glad you are sharing your story. :-)