Thursday, August 16, 2012

Running His Own Race

Since starting our home school journey two years ago, I am amazed at just how good of a decision this was. One of the reasons I love this decision so much is because I know, in my head, there is no other way to educate my children. I get that other people have choices, and I rejoice with them in their choices. I get that the absolute right decision for other people is a more traditional school setting - that is wonderful. But for us, for this house, there is no other way.

One of those "no other way" moments hit me when working with my younger son today. We were doing some addition problems. It started off rough and the first four answers he really had to struggle to find. But, once he hit his stride - he did them all perfectly. I spoke with my husband about this and I labeled him my "long distance" learner. Like track and field - if you judge a marathon runner by their pace at the 100 meters  mark - you completely miss the boat. No, they aren't fast at 100 meters, they aren't fast at 200 meters, they aren't even fast at 1600 meters. But at mile 26, when most other humans on the planet would have given up, if not had a hard attack a died, here they come. They aren't just jogging, they are now sprinting. They aren't just sprinting, they are smiling! They cross the tape and for many of them, they could probably run a little while longer. They have seen more scenery than most 100 meters  runners will ever see, they have passed more people, they have had an opportunity to think - think and run. What didn't look fast at 100 meters  looks amazingly fast at 26 miles. This year's Olympic winner ran just over 26 miles in just 2 hours. 8 minutes, and 2 seconds. That is less than 5 minutes per mile!

That is my son, who in addition to holding the labels "gifted" and "dyslexic", also has extremely slow processing speed. When people look at him on the surface, he doesn't look as fast mentally as his brother or sister. Heck, he didn't look as fast as the other kids in his preschool class 2 years ago. His "teachers" were looking for sprinters and they would tell us how he just "wasn't ready". Well, he isn't going to go out of the blocks like a sprinter. But when everyone else has bored of the task and put their pencils or crayons away - he is still going. Not limping, not lollygagging, not struggling, but running - fast. In a traditional school setting - with bells and time limits and tight schedules, there is no room for marathon runners. If you are not a sprinter - you aren't "gifted". And if you come in last place at the 100 meter tape, you are downright "slow". No one cares if you are just hitting your stride and you can go on for another 26 miles while everyone else was just in it for the short burst.

My daughter is a sprinter, like me. She "gets" it fast and even finishes her work fast. But, there is just something marathon runners have that sprinters don't. For instance, today the twins both built structures with wood blocks. My daughter, the sprinter, did a good structure quickly. I mean, you could call it a house. It had a floor, 4 walls, and even a facade. Sure, it was quite clear that this was a house, and a fine house that was well built with lots of character. But her brother, the marathon runner - boy oh boy did he build a "house". It took him at least twice as long, if not three times as long. But when he told me about his structure I was floored. There was a weather gauge to check for tornadoes (we lived through a F5 - so tornado surveillance is important to him), there were windows that rotated to give the home owner optimum views, there were doors that opened with ramps leading up to each door. This was a house where every piece was laid down with purpose, there was a story behind every block he chose to include. He even talked about a modification he had to make because his sister had used two pieces he was originally going to use. If I had yelled "time" after his sprinter sister finished - there would have been very little of his house built. In fact, it may not have looked like a house at all.

Imagine if someone yelled "time" when the marathon runners were halfway finished with the race. Some might have tried to dash for the finish line - and most likely hurt themselves by pulling muscles, tripping over obstacles or other hazards along the way, or they may have just fainted from exhaustion and despair. Others would have stopped - frustrated that all their hard work was for nothing since they were never given the opportunity to finish. I imagine some may have chosen to never run a marathon again.

As a sprinter myself - I have to constantly remind myself to not yell "time" when he is still in the middle of his race. I have to remind myself that he isn't an astonishingly slow sprinter, he is an extremely fast marathon runner. He is working at a different pace, but running his race quite well. We need marathon runners. Marathon runners are the researchers around us, those with the aptitude to sit, watch, and wait for the results. I barely had the patience to wait for the results from a pregnancy test and those things only take ten minutes! My son can work on a painting, a book, a story for hours. When he is given the time, the results are amazing. He may just be the brightest child that I have, but most in the world won't see it. Millions upon millions tuned in to watch Usain Bolt run 100 meters in just 9.63 seconds. Not too many people were waiting in breathless anticipation as Stephen Kiprotich won his gold. The marathon record is 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 38 seconds. There are just over 1600 meters in a mile. That puts the fastest marathon runner at around 17 seconds in the 100 yard dash. While that sounds quite slow for a 100 meters dash, consider that a person running a marathon is like Usain Bolt running almost 400 separate -  100 meter dashes in a row. Could he keep up his world record pace? We call Usain Bolt that fastest man in the world, but I would think Patrick Makau Masyoki would disagree. And that is how it is with knowledge as well. A gifted sprinter may look like the smartest person in the world - they might be amazingly quick with math facts, geography facts, or even naming presidents in order of their birth. It makes good television and people like to see that kind of mental speed. It is amazing, and I take nothing away from the mental Usain Bolt's of the world - I have one! But I have seen my son, the mental marathon runner in action. His depth of knowledge far outpaces anything I have ever seen. All he really needs to shine is a long enough track and someone  to let them finish the race and not yell "time" before the finish line.

Oh yea, don't hold me to the math in this - I sprinted and just didn't have the heart to go back and check the numbers!

No comments:

Post a Comment