Thursday, September 28, 2006

Teaching and Parenting

I frequently bring Caroline and Joey to campus on evenings and weekends. It is a pretty place, and if Molly is using the computer, the only way Caroline can get computer time herself. The other day, I was in the office holding Joey and coaching Caroline through one of the little flash games on a website she likes, when a colleague poked her head in.

"It didn't sound like you were meeting with students," she said.

Me: Well, I am, just a different sort of student.
Her: I suppose. Students of life, perhaps.

I wanted to say, "No, a student of me." But that would have implied that they were simply studying me. I really just wanted to say that the kids are my students the same way my students are my students.

I've actually had conversations like this a couple times. It seems obvious to me that parenting and teaching are closely interrelated, nearly identical in fact, but others don't see this. One person said to me "this has more to do with your parenting style than anything." I don't see how that is possible. For starters, all children's entertainment has at least a token educational component. Even the little Micky Mouse Flash games at the Disney site teach numbers. Coaching Caroline with those games is not too different than what I will do this afternoon, coach college students using the proof engine for the texbook Language, Proof, and Logic.(*)

The link between teaching and parenting is deeper than that, though. Here is a conversation I had this morning.

Me: I don't want to get up. I'm going back to bed. [Flops in bed]

Caroline (excitedly): Me, too! Let's go to sleep! [Crawls under the covers next to me]

Me: [Tries to actually sleep]

Caroline: Daaaddy. I don't like the new Carl book we got.

Me: Why not?

Caroline: I don't like it when he goes into the fire to rescue those puppies. He could get burned.

Me: But Carl was brave. It's good to be brave, especially when you can save puppies.
Caroline: I don't like getting shots.

Me: Being brave is about more than not crying when you get shots.

Caroline: Everyone cries when they get shots.

Me: Adults don't cry when they get shots.

Caroline: Do adults cry?

Me: Sometimes. Weddings and funerals mostly.

Caroline: Why do adults cry at weddings?

Me: Sometimes you cry because you are so happy.

Caroline: Like Dan Zanes and Miss Barbara?

Me: Yes, like Dan Zanes in the Wonder Wheel song. He laughs until he cries.


* The first google hit for Language Proof and Logic is their old website. All philosophy blogs should link to the new website to fix this problem.

No comments: