So it turns out my son has problems writing. He’s in the second grade and he’s very smart but he is more technically-minded (like his old man) and these abstract, liberal-arts type of classes confuse him. What is the correct answer to “Write about flowers”? There is none and that’s the problem. He wants there to be a correct answer and since his mind is filled with possibilities he never decides on a single answer and ends up not doing his work.
I should have been helping him with this sooner but it turns out I’m too wrapped up in my daily to-do list to notice that my son’s in trouble. This isn’t a lament, it’s just my nature. I like to fix problems, not feel. In my mind he was doing well at school except for the one little problem of writing; no big deal. He’s smart, he can figure it out.
What set me over the top is the news that not only was my son in danger of not going to the gifted classes but that he might have to repeat the 2nd grade because of his lack of completed writing assignments.
I’ve never repeated a grade in my life. I was always a smart kid and my kid is just as smart, if not smarter. That time that I got kicked out of college (and that other time) wasn’t because I was dumb, I was just learning the piano that year… and playing a lot of Street Fighter. A lot of Street Fighter. See the new one yet?
With the tenacity of a broke-ass photographer air-dropped into the middle of a celebrity-ridden Beverly Hills neighborhood, I set upon my son with a long conversation. I hit him upside his head with the Socratic method; explaining to him that there was a reason he didn’t like writing and that we were going to figure it out. I framed it like a machine to which we were missing the manual; you just have to try things until you figure out what works.
I kept asking questions and he kept answering them. We figured out he didn’t like writing mostly because it was something in which he had little interest and he also didn’t know how to do it. I decided that he should write a paper that night. The topic ended up being baseball. I kept on again with the questions. “Why baseball?” “What do you like about it?” I tried to get him to write down his opinions instead of instructions on how to do something (again, abstract vs. technical). He started to get the hang of it slowly, needed direction at times and finally had a full page of content to show me. I was very proud.
The take-away here is that
- I need to keep up with his weak areas at school because I understand what challenges he has
- Writing, and the fine arts in general, can be deconstructed so that a technical person can approach them.
- I discovered a little more about why I wanted to blog in the first place, besides “getting the hang of it”. I want to be able to stay connected to the part of me that wants to write things down. Way too often my job involves writing technical documents that have very little in the way of opinion; and anybody that knows me knows that I am not without opinion….