Don’t Fear the Teacher

by Idaho Dad on November 20, 2012

When my son was learning to ride his bike, he was afraid of falling down and getting hurt. So I always made sure to run along with him while he was figuring out how to do all those complicated bike things at the same time, like pedaling, steering, braking, and balancing.

I never let him fall.

A dad I know scolded me. He said, “You have to fall down and get hurt to learn to ride a bike.”

This is the same dad who also once told me, “Bullying is good for your kids. It toughens them up for the real world.”

I have never subscribed to the theory that personal growth must somehow involve pain. In all my years of education, I don’t ever remember having to suffer through torture and injury in order to learn something new. Oh wait, I forgot. Grad school! So, there is an exception.

I can just imagine what homeschooling might look like in this other dad’s house:

“Kids, today I want to teach you how to solve a polynomial equation. First, factor out the greatest common denominator. Good. Next, stab yourself in the elbow with your pencil. Nicely done.”

Children don’t need fear and suffering to learn. They need encouragement, contentment, and love.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike D. November 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

I definitely agree with you. However sometimes when kids are doing things they aren’t supposed to do, such as stand on top of the swing set, and we are not there to tell them to get down, than I think they learn a listen when they are wearing a cast on their arm…..just sayin’ :)

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2 Melanie November 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I agree to a point. But I don’t think we should coddle our children. They need to fall once in awhile in order to learn the most important skill we can teach our children, how to cope. Our society has become so over protective of our children that once they reach a certain age, they have no idea how to emotionally function in a healthy manner.

We live in the same neighborhood. I am not sure if you are aware of the 15 or so teenagers that have committed suicide in our community in the last year or so. Coping skills are not being taught to these kids. They are so used to some one being there to catch them when they start to fall that when they actually do, they don’t know how to get up, brush it off and get back on the bike. So they kill themselves.

I strongly encourage you to let them fall off that bike. Suffering now, will greatly reduce their suffering later.

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3 Chris Tillley (@hhtales) November 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I agree to a point. Somethings should not be tolerated as a part of growing up. Bullying is one of them. It is the reason that I pulled my son from the public system and I did get comments like the one above.

But I also believe that sometime you learn through the consequences of failure and sometimes that failure is painful. My kids and I do Tae Kwon Do. If you do a kick wrong you at best stub your toe, at worst break it. I can tell you the right way but sometimes it takes a number of stubbed toes to pick it up. I still stub my toe. I guess I’m a slow learner on that one.

I also believe failure is a learning experience when it doesn’t involve pain. If they have an idea that I know will not work I sometime let them try it and then come in to help them figure out why.

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4 Sue Spence Daniel November 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

I agree that our children need encouragement, contentment, and love. I do believe that children should be allowed to fail on their own and learn from it. If we coddle our children their entire life, when they go off to college and enter the real world they will not know what hit them and it will be a huge shock to someone that was so sheltered.

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