Slice of Life Challenge, Day 9
My boys have never really spent time on a minature golf course. I qualify this statement a bit because there was the time that we took them to a local science museum which had a similar sort of special exhibit at the time, but it was crowded and both my boys expressed more interest in looking at dinosaur bones than playing golf. So today, my little shark-hoodie wearin' five-year-old got a quick tutorial from dad and was hooked. Once he sank a putt, he would run to the next hole, but he was not trying to place his ball and swing a quick hit before we could catch up to him. Nope. He would run to the next green, and then keep running to see where the hole was. He would talk through how he was going to try to hit the ball, lining up his shot. On the sixth hole, we had a wait a few moments while a dad with his pre-teen son finished the shot. My little guy watched intently. It took the dad and his son both three shots. Not bad. It was a difficult incline shot with hockey pucks set up like Plinko along the green to make the shot nearly impossible. My son moved his golf ball toward the edge of the putting mat and hit it gently. The ball moved slowly toward the first obstacle and banked toward the edge, skimming off the edge all the way down the incline and into the hole. A hole in one! He was so proud of setting up that shot and having it work. You know what's coming next, don't you? My connection to teaching, as if it weren't obvious.
My husband took time to help my son line up his shots on the first few holes, showing him how to hold the putter and hit the ball. And to be honest, at first, my son wanted none of it. So on the third green, he hit the ball without help and was frustrated when he couldn't get it to go through the hole in the big plastic tree like the shot required. After a number of attempts, he asked his dad for some help, and with a couple of pointers, my husband helped him line up the shot and take a slow swing. Viola! And that success lead to another and another. We all need those supportive models to show us the ropes when we are trying new things, but we also need to be encouraged to try new things on our own, to figure it out on our own terms, and to learn when we need to ask for help. This has been a lesson that not only has my little guy has struggled to learn but one that I still struggle with - learning when and how to ask for help.
We all want to be successful and have things come easily, whether you are five or thirty-five. Learning to recognize when you need support and learning to ask for that help is critical. It is a lesson that not all of our students (or even some teachers) have yet learned. We need to help our students understand that they are part of a learning community, one that grows when we depend on one another and support one another's learning. We are stronger when we learn from one another, when we can seek out the experts in our community to mentor us. We need to teach out students to recognize when they need help and how to ask for it, to be better advocates for their own learning.