The most rewarding part of teaching anyone anything is when they get it. When the lightbulb goes on. It's a thrill. Last week, Mark stumbled during math with elapsed time. It made no sense to him. We spent several days on it. We both became really really frustrated.
For example, one question was: if you start driving at 12:30 and arrive at 7:00, how much time has passed?
Mark was convinced it was 7 1/2 hours. I could not convince him otherwise. Finally I drew a picture of a stick figure (him) throwing a ball seven feet. I drew the ball. I drew the dotted projectile line of the ball. I marked off seven feet. (It really was spectacular art and I'm sorry you weren't here to see it.) Then I drew another kid a half foot closer. I drew his ball and the projectile line. I said, "This kid said, 'I can throw the ball as far as you can Mark.'" Mark looked at me, shocked.
"He can not," he declared. "He only threw it 6 1/2 feet!"
Yes! Hold that thought! Then I said, "What if you worked for me starting at noon for $1 an hour. If you work until 7:00, how much money would you earn?"
He said, "Seven dollars."
"OK," (and now for a little laborers in the vineyard parable from the New Testament--I know, way to liken the scriptures) "What if another guy came along and worked until 7:00 too, but he didn't start until 12:30. Should he earn the same amount of money?"
"Because he didn't work as long."
Yes! He was getting it! "How long did he work?"
"7 1/2 hours."
Then I went and hit my head against the wall. Repeatedly.
For a few days Mark didn't get it. Then, he did. He was asked this question, "If you put muffins in the oven at 6:45 and they need to bake for 18 minutes, when will they be done?"
Mark didn't know. I pulled out our practice clock and showed him 6:45. He moved the minute hand to 18 minutes after 7:00. "No," I said, "It's 18 minutes from when he put them in the oven."
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. So if what you've been telling me is true," Mark said (and yes Mark, it's true) "Then, the distance from the 9 to the 12 is the same as the distance from the 12 to the 3."
"So the muffins were done at 7:03."
And just like that, he got it. I felt like I'd won a marathon.
Then we moved on to geography. We are reviewing since it is near the end of the year. We were just skimming through a review of the oceans and continents. Easy. He's known them for years.
Except he thought Indonesia was a continent. Indonesia? I told him it was not. He insisted it was. (My kids never think I'm smarter than them. Never.) We countered back and forth and he finally gave in.
But he was a little grumpy about it. "My whole life, Indonesia was a continent and now you're telling me it isn't."
|this photo is from last summer but you get the idea|