"Putting on the Game Face"
|There are some people out there who have a knack for making connections and explaining things.
Now, one would think that a teacher would have this knack but not all of them do. Teachers are hired based upon their degrees and how smart they are, indicated by GPA, academic recognitions and published works which evidence their grasp of the subject material in a specialized area.
Just because a teacher understands something does not necessarily mean that they have the knack for making connections and explaining. Sure they make scribbles on the blackboard but often I would emerge from a college math class as befuddled with the day's instruction as I was when I walked in the door.
To cope with my lack of understanding I'd search the text book for examples and often these helped throw some light on what the instructor was trying to explain. Often, however, the textbook was not much help. It had lots of words and diagrams but often did not shed much light on what I was trying to figure out.
Often I found that a "dumbass" like myself, who was barely able to get the idea of what was being taught, proved to be someone who could best explain things.
In the Exploratory Writing Workshop I do not call myself a "Teacher" but rather a "Facilitator." Reading and Writing were hard for me in school, however the more I did it, then and in my profession, the better I became, often eclipsing those with better grades and higher degrees.
My wife, was a gifted student, who loved school and barely had to study to get straight As. To say she never paid "Rapt Attention" in the college classes we attended is an understatement. She spent more time on side interests than she did paying attention. Sure, she would occasionally look up and take note but it was never long before she was back to thinking about other things. Linda has an awesome knack for absorbing information and her bio-processor is extremely well suited for inputing large volumes of data.
Many really smart people have this ability and we see them as doctors and lawyers, and Rocket Scientists. However, there are also those, like myself, who must struggle for every glimmer of understanding. The acquiring process is, for me, fraught with agony and frustration. However, once understanding dawns I have a facility for applying that knowledge to situations and explaining it to others.
In grammar school I flunked the 5th grade and my mother got called in. I recall her telling my father that I was "Mildly Retarded, Socially Immature and Cognitively Deficient." I felt bad because the meeting upset my mother, but otherwise accepted the truth of it. I was the student from Hell, and while not a huge behavior problem was definitely dumb as a box of rocks, compared with everyone else.
I remember one day in class Mrs Jones telling us she intended to do a Christmas Project, making candles. She told us to bring from home a small empty frozen orange juice can. We would heat up some wax, suspend a wick and pour the paraffin into the can. Once the contents hardened, a little more heat and "Voila," the candle would slide out ready for decorating. Everybody in the class was excited about the project and our teacher set about gathering the necessary materials.
Unfortunately, the next day she had some bad news. She was able to get the paraffin but nowhere could she find a source for the wicks... "Oh well," she lamented, "So much for that idea."
I remember raising my hand. I was not a great contributor and she noticed me right away. "What is it Percy?" she inquired.
"Why don't we bring a table candle from home, put that in the can and pour the wax around it."
I will never forget her dumbfounded look. The answer, obvious to me, had not occurred to her. She paused, "Does everyone understand what Percy just said?" she asked.
It was my first academic triumph and my heart went "pitter-pat".