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Teaching


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

                          ~ Benjamin Franklin

~ Teaching with a Guiding Hand of Instruction

Lessons can come at us from absolutely anywhere, but we expect them from our elders whom we look to for a guiding hand of instruction. The trouble is that adults are usually in too much of a hurry to exercise the patience required to teach with guiding instructions. But every now and then a hero steps up and shows us exactly how it should be done.



~ Spilled Milk

Spilled MilkSpilled Milk

Take for example the story I heard in a church sermon years ago about the Spilled Milk on the kitchen floor. In their haste to grow up and do what the adults do, children often try to tackle jobs for which their small hands and inexperienced muscles are not very well equipped to handle the requirements. Tasks like trying to pour themselves a glass of milk from the one gallon plastic jug often end up on the kitchen floor and draw an irksome groan from the adults in the room who then rush to clean the mess while scolding the adventurous child for their mishap. Most adults are too busy in their day to deal with the learning mistakes of a child trying to exercise a little autonomy and just push the child out of the way while they scramble to clean the mess with as little interruption in their day as possible. But what lesson does that teach the child and worse yet, what impact might it have on the psyche of that child moving forward the next time they think to try accomplishing another adult task in their haste to grow up? Doesn’t it make more sense to teach children with patience, understanding, and a guiding hand of instruction? To teach them it’s okay to ask for help when needed and also how to deal with and take responsibility for the mistakes they will make when they stumble along the way? This approach can go a long way toward helping that child grow into both learning how to handle the task at hand and also in their confidence for the future.

In our example of the glass of Spilled Milk on the kitchen floor our hero turns out to be the boyfriend of the boy’s mother. He sees the spilled milk on the floor and rather than simply rushing to clean it up with an angry look of frustration to the child; he instead takes the child by the hand ang gets down on one knee to be at his level and work with him on what to do next. With a big smile and an open heart he says, “Whoa, what happened here?” And then asks the child what he thinks might be the best way to deal with this mistake and clean up this little spill. He gave the boy few choices, including: a sponge, paper towels, a rag, or a mop and asks the boy which one he thinks might work best to clean the spilled milk. The boy chooses the paper towels and together with big smiles, laughter, and happiness in their hearts they sop up the milk and clean the spill. Then he goes a step further to assist the child in how best to handle the heavy and awkward gallon jug of milk.

What a great lesson on tolerance, patience, and understanding and teaching with the guiding hand of instruction. And what message do you think that simple lesson taught the boy and how much confidence do you think it gave him moving forward to learn that mistakes and spills are a part of life? How you handle them and what you learn from them is what’s most important.



~ God’s Grace

Dick CalandrellaDick Calandrella

As children we sometimes go through life believing that Mom and Dad have it all figured out and they never make a mistake. But then as we grow into adulthood and begin to pass the ages they were when certain things occurred in our lives we realize they were not as omniscient as we had believed as we learn that they were just figuring it out as they went along. We come to that realization because we learn that at the same ages we don’t really know much and we’re just figuring things out as we go along.

My parents did a very good job of not arguing in front of my brother and me in a great job of walking and talking with confidence so we never saw them waver. As a result, I was one of those kids that always thought Mom and Dad had all the answers and never made a mistake. But then as I got older and began to pass the ages they were when some memorable experiences in my life took place I began to realize that they could not have known everything … because I didn’t at those same ages, and I further realized that no one else does either. My parents just did a very good job of figuring things out along the way because I noticed over time that they had learned and applied lessons with great acumen and sometimes with tremendous timing and efficiency.

Take for example the lesson I witnessed during a family summer vacation when I was 12 years old. I didn’t recognize the lesson or understand its significance until many years later, but it still stands as one of the greatest lessons my Dad ever taught me. While checking into a hotel during our trip my Dad was standing at the counter while I stood by his side to be part of the process. I heard him tell the woman at the counter that he had two boys; one eleven and the other thirteen. But both my brother and I had just recently had our birthdays (toward the end of the school year) and I had just turned twelve and my brother fourteen. I was crushed that Dad didn’t know hold I was, so I had no reservations about screaming out our real ages. What I was too young to know and understand at the time was that children under twelve stayed free and my Dad was just trying to save a buck or two. I mean what’s the big deal, I was under twelve just a few weeks ago? Well, being the most honest man I’ve ever met, my Dad was ridiculously embarrassed as he had to come clean and admit our true ages. 


After checking us in and getting everything squared away my Dad and I  headed out to the car in the parking lot where my Mom my brother and my great aunt were waiting. Before my Dad and I got to the car, as he was dragging me by my arm, we stopped and he started really letting me have it. Dad was pissed off and I was getting in ear-full of why I needed to mind my own business and keep quiet, when all of a sudden he just stopped … a calm, peaceful sereneness came over him. It was as if the Grace of God just overwhelmed him and in an instant his whole demeanor and countenance altered. I saw a piece settle over him as he realized that I had done nothing wrong and he was just upset and yelling at me out of his own frustration and embarrassment. I was bawling my eyes out as he dropped to one knee to get down at a level face to face and eye to eye with me as he apologized and explained to me that what he did was wrong and said it was just his pride and embarrassment that caused his angry outburst. Then he hugged me and told me he loved me!

Wow! What a moment! I was still confused because I didn’t understand what had just happened. All I knew was that one minute Dad didn’t know how old I was and I was in trouble and getting yelled at, and the next minute he was hugging me and telling me he loved me. I mean I was happy he wasn’t upset with me anymore, but I still didn’t get it. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the significance of what actually occurred that day. Few people ever achieve the level of maturity it took for my Dad to put his Anger and frustration aside and realize this moment wasn’t at all about me but entirely about him. His Anger and frustration were reactionary to the moment of his initial embarrassment, but then to have the Wisdom to reel in that Emotion and realize the lesson he now had the opportunity to pass along to a twelve year-old boy is absolutely remarkable. How many people do you know can put aside their pride long enough to admit to a child that they were wrong and make an apology?

Keep in mind also that when you point a finger at someone else three fingers are still pointing straight back at you. In many situations where our Anger and frustration cause outbursts of emotion the Blame may often sit first with us and it's just our pride that causes the outburst. An initial introspective look at our role in the situation may help us to swallow our pride and take some Responsibility before lashing out at another.


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