Hey everyone! This is going to be a slightly odd topic, really, but as I’ve had to do a couple of group parents’ evenings at school for our three year old, something really struck me about the level of importance we put upon learning.
Learning is important. It’s imperative that our kids learn and grasp techniques and processes we use daily in order to get through adulthood. I’m with that.
At three years old, the biggest battle between the teacher and our kids is the ability to hold a pen correctly. Everything hinges on this – the entirety of work they need to show for this year depends on it. I understand that.
I don’t think it’s life-or-death important. Not when it’s such young minds being screamed at almost daily over a concept they barely understand. Especially as it’s not actually obligatory for them to be educated for another 2 years.
So here’s a little thing about me I want to share: I do not hold a pen correctly. Present-tense, to-this-day. See the pic.
Why? I moved around a lot as a kid, I think by the time I was 8 I’d already been to 3 different schools. I never got the lesson on how to hold a pen “properly”. I was quiet and terrified of people due to specific, traumatic things that had happened to me growing up from a young age. I couldn’t even ask for help.
My new teacher swiftly realised my writing was terrible. I held the pen incorrectly, the words were all over the page, I had no control. What she did was hold up my work and ask the other children if this was acceptable (bear in mind this is my first-second week at this school, and I still struggled to make friends). Once the class had given the answer she wanted, she tore it all up and shouted at me to do it again.
Was it because I held the pen wrong? Was my arm at the wrong angle?
Who knows, really? I never found out.
Nothing was corrected, and I learned by watching my classmates and tried my best to imitate them. I was so terrified of having a torrent of fury thrown my way again over something I didn’t understand, that the only thing I could do was grip the pen as tightly as possible and ensure each individual letter came out tiny, and could be seen as “neat”.
So, in reality, I still don’t hold a pen correctly. It rests on the wrong finger. If that same teacher could see me write nowadays, I’m sure I’d see spittle and fragments of paper flying about the room within moments.. (Except this Elisabeth would give that teacher a piece of her mind!)
The point is a strange one. Nearly all of my English teachers did this to me – shout first, questions never.
The ONE teacher that encouraged me in this lesson was my favourite teacher of all time, Miss Sheridan. She was dyslexic, which perhaps made her more empathic to those who struggled. She made lessons fun… And, most importantly, while I was shy and still unable to talk much, she heard my writing.
She was the first teacher to comment on my writing as a good thing – not on the aesthetic side, but the content I had written. For the first time in my life, I was hearing someone tell me that I was good with words, that I had a unique way of writing and seeing things.
Out of all my teachers, Miss Sheridan was the one who gave me hope that I might not be as stupid and terrible as the other teachers led me to believe. That the words I write down could actually matter and bring a smile to someone’s face.
She was a woman who struggled in her own way with spelling and writing, and yet was the person who showed and taught me the biggest and most complex words I’d heard at the time… Because a weakness doesn’t mean you can’t do something, it just means you gotta find your own route to get there.
I became a writer in my heart the day that teacher praised me, and it was a nothing, really. I continue to write every single day because that teacher is in my thoughts, because she believed I was capable of it despite my weaknesses and fears.
Education is important, but it takes the right kind of teacher to know how to show you the way.
If you’re struggling over something you’re working on right now, it’s not for nothing and it’s an obstacle you can overcome. You just need to find the method that works best for you.
We all work at our own pace – I, for one, don’t care about being late to the party, or if people arrive later or earlier than I do.
We’re all going to the same place after all, right?
Love to all of you, and I wish you the best of luck with your writing journey – no matter what stage you’re chugging through.