I was inspired to write this post after a tutoring session with one of my new clients. She is a high school sophomore, who has really been struggling with Chemistry. Thus far, she has failed the vast majority of her tests. Her father employed me a week ago to help improve her grades. Unfortunately, we were only able to work together twice before her Chemistry midterm. Consequently, she only earned a 65 on her Chemistry midterm and in fact, the same low-grade on her Global midterm. (I was actually unaware that she was struggling so much with Global as well.)
As is often the case, she likes her Global teacher, but does not feel the Chemistry teacher has taught her anything the entire year. I do not believe in putting down other teachers, so I will not do so here. I do know that she had little to no understanding of the topics in Chemistry she should have mastered by now and will definitely need to know for the upcoming Regents Examinations. When asked to show how to write electron configuration, she had absolutely no idea how to proceed. Even basic things like the meaning of atomic number and atomic weight, she was struggling with! In the four hours we worked together before the midterm, I showed her a systematic way to solve electron configuration based on the way I learned. I taught her the meanings of each Quantum Number: N l ML and Ms and showed her how to make a table that would make it a lot easier to write a full-out electron configuration for each element.
She knew how to do it, but as often happens when a student knows the material, but is not 100% comfortable with the methods, she answered the exact questions she got right with me, incorrectly on her midterm! Even during our next session when I asked her the same questions, she was able to answer them correctly. So, what was the problem on the midterm? She did not follow the prescribed steps we had gone over to arrive at the correct answer. Particularly, with the Sciences, it is essential to find a method that works and most importantly, to use it each and every single time!
So onto the main point of this post….needless to say, my student’s father was EXTREMELY unhappy with his daughter’s midterm grades! I was really pleased to hear him tell her that: “in our house, lower than an 85 is failing!” He then proceeded to strip her of her phone, laptop privileges, and all after school extracurricular activities! As expected, she was pretty angry with the situation, but I was ecstatic! It always makes me happy, when parents act like parents, and demand the most of their children. The bottom line is that not all students are A students, but this particular girl is very bright, and she should be an A student! Her parents know this and are pushing for her to realize it as well!
At home is where good study habits and a lifelong passion and love for learning develop. It is our parents who first model for us what it means to be a student. It is essential for parents to constantly be learning themselves, to always have reading material around the home. Also, make sure even at the young age of 1-year-old, a child should be taken to the public library, in my opinion, at least once a week. As a child, I knew every librarian’s first name and they all knew me. Consequently, the Brooklyn Public Library is still one of my most favorite places in the world and I still go there at least once a week!
If you start your children off on the right path, they will develop an insatiable thirst for knowledge, which will always serve them well, in school, college, work, and beyond! In short, it will make them a better human being and we all owe our children that!
What do you think? How else can we inspire our children to become lifelong learners?