What I did on Summer Vacation Published 2006-08-23

I have just returned from a wonderful family vacation which included many firsts. We spent the time with friends in Park City, UT, one of my favorite places. While it was not the first time my wife and I vacationed in Park City, it was my daughter's first "road trip". We were very apprehensive of the usual 10 1/2 hour drive from California to Park City. Between my wife and I, we have probably made the trip a hundred times. But this time we were traveling with a 19 month ball of energy.

Lesson #1 - Adaptability

Being the tech wizard of the family, I downloaded to my laptop around 15 hours of television shows from the new child's network, Noggin, using Tivo. My wife, being the book wiz, found several new picture and activity books form our little girl. Packed with many snacks and our arsenal of entertainment, we left Pasadena at 5:30am. To our amazement, the trip went extremely well. We stopped twice to let our girl run, once at a fast food chain's play area and once at a local elementary school's playground. In the end, we did use the recorded TV shows (my daughter loves Pinky Dinky Doo) and the activity books, but certainly not as much as we thought. The trick was novelty. Guess what? A 19 month old does not have a very long attention span! :-) By switching from singing songs, peek-a-boo, the intro to "Jack's Big Music Show", and sticker books we had a relatively nice trip.

I offer this not as a guide to taking a road trip with a 19 month'er, nor to announce that kids have short attention spans. The true lesson is in adaptability. I have been thinking about how we had to read the situation during this trip and adapt to our child's needs. This is the same skill that successful teachers use in the classroom. I am amazed at teachers who can deliver the exact same lesson to three different sections of the same course. While the content may be the same, shouldn't the delivery, discussion, and activity differ depending on the students? It is easy to offer the same lecture over and over, but the real skill (and where the real teaching occurs) is with the teacher who adapts the lesson to the students, the day, and even the hour.

Lesson #2 - Bullies

While in Park City, I took my 19 month daughter to a playground, one with an elaborate "jungle gym", you know, one of those with lots of catwalks, bridges, tunnels and slides. A local summer camp (read day care) uses the same playground which was a real bonus for my little girl who loves playing with (or at least around) other kids. I watched as my daughter chased after other kids who were oblivious to this much younger outsider. However, one little girl (who we will call Bully) took interest in my child. Bully, with her blank expression on her face, decided that she would stand in front of my girl and prevent her from moving forward. On the bridge, Bully would move right and the left in reaction to her target's attempts to get by. In the tunnel, she would move forward and then aft preventing my girl from escaping. Unlike my wife who would have came to our daughter's rescue, I just watched - with amazement! My little girl never got upset, never cried, never frustrated. She reacted to Bully's actions by laughing in her face which totally flustered the little girl.

I am not sure what the lesson is except that humor has a way of thwarting the nefarious ways of others. I was so proud of my little girl who I would never have thought would be teaching me a lesson on patience. BTW - Bully got her just reward when, as she tried to block my girl from sliding down the slide, Bully slipped and fell down the slide in what appear to be a very uncomfortable way.


Diane Quirk said...

I love your posting! Lesson #1 is right on - teachers do need to vary their approach and strategies for each new class. It's amazing to hear teachers talk about how the kids have changed but they don't recognize the need for their own change. Lesson #2 - think about your daughter as a teacher who has a goal in mind and doesn't let the naysayers sway her from her goals. There are always those who try to block progress - sooner or later they either have to give up, get out of the way or recognize the need for change. Keep writing - I really like where you're headed.

rob banning said...

Thanks for the encouragement and your insight. I stumbled on your blog Technology to Empower Student Learning recently and have added it to my bloglines feeds.

I look forward to learning more from you in the future.