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Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I Make Children Play In Class

Kick Ass Water Guns

When I saw these at the Pasar Malam I could not resist. The thought of a group of rowdy kids running amok shooting wetness at each other was too much. I bought every gun the vendor had to sell. On Saturday, Dr Pet's English Enrichment kids had a blast after class. They don't ALWAYS get to play games. The class has to work hard and well enough to earn the 5 minutes of play after class.

They were drenched right through to underwear. As they skipped down the stairs fulfilled and joyful, one boy said to me, "I have ONE word."

"What is it?" I asked.

"GG" he replied with every machismo possible from a little boy.

"Eh what?" I said.

"Good game!" he yelled, emphasizing his point by pumping his upturned thumb up and down.

Children at play reveal aspects of themselves that adults don't see in the context of serious work. The way children play to win, has often given me invaluable clues on what to do to crack a motivation problem. All too often, children pull in mediocre grades in school to only reveal how fast their brains work at play. I'll tell you this, I rather suspect that how often children win at play with their peers is a good predictor of life success. Of course, no one is interested in children playing so I doubt anyone has researched this interesting question.

Little S' mother explained to me early in the year that Little S was SLOW to learn and understand. In class, Little S did a marvelous job convincing me that she was trying her best-est and doing her most-est... but she just COULDN'T make it. 

I believed her for about 3 months... always indulgent... always forgiving.

Then Little S made the mistake of taking her subterfuge too far. She tried to explain that her bad handwriting and blanks in worksheets (even though we had gone through the worksheet TWICE in class - orally and in written form) was ALSO due to her being slow and unable to understand. Really? In that case your IQ would really be sub-normal and try as I could, I coouldn't see Little S as sub-normal in intelligence at all. "My daughter has tried her most-est", her Mother assured me. 


So I made them play musical chairs in class as I moulded their reflexes for English Oral. As the game progressed, I noticed that Little S who refuses to speak in normal times, always shrugging her shoulders and saying "I don't know." possessed an extraordinary presence of mind. She far outstripped the others in her class with her ability to quickly apply words that I had thrown up randomly only 2 minutes before. Her delivery was smooth and she met every single dimension I had set out for good oral performance. Little S gave me CONSISTENT flashes of brilliance as she played musical chairs. She was very motivated because she wanted to have a go at my Kick Ass Water Guns at the end of class.

This showed me 2 things. She had above average capability to convert knowledge to skill in real time. It takes a rather big IQ to do that, you know.

So, after class, I looked deep into Little S' eyes and I said, "I've seen the fox's tail. I only have to see it once to know that you are capable of far more than you are producing. I want more effort out of you."

1 comment:

Malar said...

Your classes are really fun to join! I wish you're here!