Teach a child to fish

Teach a child to fish

Small moments remind how important each of us can be to our surroundings.  Earlier today, a friend of mine who teaches high school English asked me to look at an email from one of her AP students and help him get started on an essay he must write for a chance at a scholarship to attend a leadership program.  After the looking at the essay topic, which asks him to describe strategies he would employ to change American people’s negative views of the American government/democracy, I told her that I needed to know his thoughts on it.  Since it’s an opinion-based piece, I couldn’t guide him without knowing his opinion.  Upon her instruction, he logged onto Google Chat, and we talked about his thoughts.  Initially, he said he was confused and was not sure he could answer the question.  So I asked a series of questions that walked him through the process of forming an opinion and then appropriate strategies.  At the end, I summarized what he said and suggested how he should frame the essay for easy flow.  I asked him did that sound good; and he said, “oh YES I LOVE the profound thought,” to which I replied, “well it’s YOUR profound thought!”

So many times we are quick to give an answer instead of helping the question-asker figure it out.  This student is preparing to enter a leadership program and is an AP student–so he clearly had the capacity.  He just needed help sorting through his thoughts and making them concrete.  I’m sure his essay will be superb.  Not because I told him what to say–but because he had great thoughts, now he knows how great his own thoughts are, and he now can put them on paper in an organized fashion.  When you’re working with young people, don’t underestimate them.  Ask questions, listen to their answers, and tell them what they said.  And watch how spectacular they’ll find out they were all along. 🙂

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One thought on “Teach a child to fish

  1. awwww…
    You know he will be talking about the encounter until my ears cannot stand it any longer. He is such an eager young man that has a thirst for greatness. Thanks again.

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