Monday, November 15, 2010

963. Student

Back to my wonderful student. I don't have much experience around kids, let alone teaching them. Awhile back I tutored a little boy, a second grader, through a public school reading program. The few personal details I was able to extract suggested that his parents were wealthy and way too busy; they bought him a room full of books but never sat there while he opened them, so he rarely did. He and I spent our time reading together, me correcting him on words while encouraging him concentrate and get excited by the stories. And he did, eventually, because I think I was one of the few adults in his life who paid this kind of attention.

I hope he learned something during our partnership, but I know I did, or more accurately, re-learned: how to think like a child, a combination of infinite patience and thoughts moving more quickly than the speed of light. I tried to remember this when preparing for my new chanting student, who could not be more different from the little boy. She's quick and focused and fascinated by a million different things, all supported by her deeply involved parents. She studies more than I ask, and is bummed that her portion isn't longer. She's also learning faster than I can teach her, and asks questions harder than anything I could come up with. Although someone else will be helping her write her d'var Torah, we've also started to study the parasha together (Shoftim), at her request. Once again, I'm pretty sure I'm learning more than she is, which I'm beginning to think is the whole, unadvertised point of teaching.

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