Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Line Up!

The other day I was asking Middle Man about his day at school. I try to get them to tell me one thumbs up, one thumbs down if there was one, and something they learned that day. Middle Man was telling me that he had a good day. He was telling me about how he got to play at lunch recess which I was glad to hear because last week when I was visiting his class at recess because I happen to be in the building for something else, I got to watch Middle Man sitting against the wall during part of his recess. I am not a fan of missing recess for little kids but I am also not a fan of teaching kindergartners so it is not my call. Middle Man is motivated by positive reinforcements but is barely phased by negatives such as losing recess. It is just not a big deal to him.

So today he was telling me about playing at first recess and then he mentions that he did not get to play at second recess. "Why?" I asked and he said very matter of factly, "I did not line up after lunch recess." He did not seem to care that much. He did not have any thumbs down moments to report. Or so it seemed. But then when I asked him what he learned in school that day he replied, "to line up." Finally! He may pass kindergarten yet.

It is such a frustrating and hard lesson to learn. To have to stop what you are doing at the sound of a whistle or a call to line up. To have to change activities when you are having so much fun, especially when you have to stop playing to go inside to work. I can understand why he doesn't want to line up. I don't like to jump to for others and I have control over most of my time. Poor Middle Man is being bossed around all day long, first by me as I rush him onto the bus, then by the teachers, and then again by me after school. His big brother is always telling him what to do and his little brother is always getting into his stuff and in his way.

But the truth is learning to line up is an important life lesson. The community has to have rules and systems in place for things to work. We have to follow the traffic laws, stand in line with our cars and wait for the green light even when we think we can cross the highway safely. We have to show up at work every day, whether that is in an office or at home taking care of our kids. Lining up when the whistle blow is frustrating because we don't want to give over our will, our desires to the good of the group, or even our own good. We want what we want when we want it.

So while it seems so silly to teach kids to line up and walk through the halls quietly and in straight lines and then send them to middle school where they never line up again. There is a bigger lesson being taught. Sometimes we have to stop what we are doing at the sound of a whistle and get in line.

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