Yesterday I started reading chapter 7 of the mind blowing book, The World Is Flat, titled "The Right Stuff". The chapter was very interesting, but instead of going into a discussion about the contents of the chapter(coming in a future post) I want to focus on my AHA moment(an instant at which the solution to a problem becomes clear ) I had yesterday when reading the quote at the beginning of the chapter.
A friend once asked Isidor I. Rabi, a Nobel prize winner in science, how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn't so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, "Did you ask a good question today?"
"Asking good questions," Rabi said, "made me become a scientist."
I read that little story and I was hit upon the head with a problem bothering me as of late. Aiden, who is in first grade never talks about school. I started this little thing where when I pick him up from school or when we arrive at home he needs to tell me two things that he learned that day. I rarely received one thing that he learned let alone two. He always told me he did not learn anything. I think the phrasing of the prompt was incorrect. He is learning. He is learning more than he even realizes, but he does not view it as "learning". Actually, he may not truly understand what the word means to begin with.
If you know anything about my son, then you know that he is an investigative, curious, world observer, nature lover, bug expert, and just loves anything that promotes more questions than answers. Like any boy he lives outside. Up at 6 am and often times on the weekend is outside checking for butterflies at 5:45 am. He can tell you about any insect in the QC area(several times I doubted his facts, checked them online to find out he is indeed correct). I state all this not to brag(he is just a normal kid), but to explain why my new idea popped in my head.
Perhaps I was asking the wrong information from him. I took this little story and adapted it to my situation. I hated that he was in school for 8 hours and could not tell me anything he learned. It drove me nuts! I changed things up. I adapted to his nature. Yesterday after school I told him I was no longer going to ask him what he learned in school. Instead I was going to ask, "What is one good question that you asked today?" He instantly changed his emotion and told me, "I asked a good question today." I was taken aback. He never talks school. I asked him what his question was.....
"I asked how many sentences I had to write." We then started talking about how much he was to write, how much he actually wrote, what he was writing, etc. All of a sudden we had a 3 minute conversation about school where I learned more about that day than all of last week combined.
I was elated. He had enough school talk by the time we arrived home, but before leaving the car he told me, "Dad, I already know what question I am going to ask tomorrow." He was already prepared.
Of course his question was, "Can I bring my bugs to school to show the class?"
I love it! These questions are simple, but he views them as important. I view them as important because for at least a day or two(I sure hope it lasts longer) I am finally able to get inside the mind of my son and find out what flips his trigger in school. This will hopefully force him to continue to ask questions. It will help him to continue working on his social skills, but also using his strengths which are his curiosity and his tenacity to find answers. This makes me a happy father.
I cannot wait to see him today to find out if he asked the question or a different one.
P.S. By the way, having a child go through the education system has already forced me to evaluate how I teach and my thoughts on education. And yes, I will share those thoughts in due time.