One of a series on the real “cor,” or heart, of all good teaching.
No, no one is perfect, especially not in elementary and middle school. Learning counts on that fact. New learning requires risk-taking and mistake-making over and over again. This is the stuff of adventures and discoveries … in the pages of a book and in the lens of a magnifying glass.
Why do so many children learn how to fold an 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper over and over again until it takes flight? What do they learn through this repetitive behavior? Why do children draw and paint the same flower or face or kitten again and again, skip the same rope over and over, repeat the same rhymes, sing the same songs?
Such are the links in learning from one schema to another in the developing brain. Practice of any kind honors mistakes and growth and leads to a stronger mind and heart, willing to take on more challenges, to value achievement of all kinds, and learning the right amount of risk: One pull up at a time, the next move on the balance beam, the next page of writing, trying out a chapter book.
How will the child’s capacity to embrace the idea of practicing fit in an era of prescribed standards and external expectations? Will there be room for “habits of the heart” as well as of the head?
In a truly engaged classroom, practice work should be displayed—, not just the best work. Daily practice in writing and vocabulary development, math facts, drawing, and reading out loud create the foundation for learning more complex content and the capacity to represent what has been learned in meaningful ways.
As an adult learner, what daily practice enhances the work you do, adds joy and spaciousness to your life? Strengthens your persistence and makes you confident it’s OK not to be perfect? How can you pass on that knowledge to those you teach?
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