Friday, November 29, 2013

Then And Now

Right before I got my first degree, there was a period of time that I worked in a pre-school. Long story... (no, I'm not telling it all in this post)

Once, I was asked to attend to the children as they woke from their afternoon nap. The youngest of the group was a 4-year-old girl - an adorable little thing with an angelic face. She burst into tears she moment she was awake, and wouldn't say what was wrong. The older children told me she cried every day after their nap.

Not knowing what to do, and not wanting to call one of the real teachers for help, I did what I probably shouldn't have - I placed the girl on my lap, hugged her, sweet-talked her, and did her hair up with pretty ribbons... basically, I spoiled her until she stopped crying. Then, I took her along with the other children down to the dining room for their afternoon snack.

The kitchen prepared porridge that day. The little girl sat there motionless, looking melancholy, not touching her food. I asked her why she wasn't eating. She just shook her head. I asked if she was hungry, if she wanted to eat. She shook her head again. Then, I did, again, what I probably shouldn't have - I asked if she'd like me to feed her. She looked at me, in all her wide-eyed innocence, not protesting... so I did. She took each spoonful willingly and obediently, and emptied the entire bowl quickly enough.

In hindsight, I wasn't so competent a care-giver. The right thing to do was to encourage the child to be independent, and not let her charm me into spoiling and spoon-feeding her. Yet, even then, I knew that part of the reason I did what I did, was that it was the easier path to take.

There have been many, so many, times in the course of my career (thus far) that I was tempted to desert the rightful road, because it is just so much harder. If I were to just give my students what they're after - everything served on a spoon - my work will be much less frustrating... much less work too, in fact. But I just can't bring myself to give in. It is not what I chose this profession for.

I haven't had to deal with unreasonable students regarding my no-spoon-feeding principle (specifically, no softcopy tutorial solutions) for some years now. I am thankful - extremely thankful - that my students understand that this, the harder way, is the right one.

No comments: