I was supposed to start my 100 days of GRE last week, but I decided to back off a week for two good reasons. The first is I enrolled in a free two evening seminar offer by UVU on the writing and verbal sections of the test. Next month I am going to attend a similar two evening seminar on the analytical section of the test. Waiting to begin my studies so they synced with the seminar seemed like a pretty good idea. The second reason is my allergies last week and the week before were horrendous. I could barely do anything other than read and sneeze. Anything else was out of the question. (I did still take care of my grandchildren and do volunteer hours with some fellow local veterans and work on the literary journal, so it’s not like I did nothing.)
Yesterday, I was so busy driving people around and doing other things around the house that I could do almost nothing else except think about the GRE and how much I wish I could be working on it, but I went over a list of vocab in my mind as I drove, so yeah did stuff, but I did not ignore my studies.
Today, I took the first part of the practice examine: the thirty minute essay. I don’t have time to just do a full practice test right now, but I plan to next week. Below you’ll find my essay. Point out problems with it. I’d appreciate it. I already know my writing is a bit mushy right now, but the more I practice the better I’ll get.
Here is the prompt:
The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your positions.
Here is that essay:
Teaching is a complicated process. It would be so easy to say reward the good and ignore the bad, but this sunshine and no dark approach is not very realistic. Just in the same way, one does not learn well by focusing on only the negative and bad and ignoring the good. Night always follows the day and the morning always overcomes the night. Both light and dark must be utilized.
Most of my friends are teachers. They graduated when I was supposed to eleven years ago, but I wasn’t able to because I raised three teenagers on my own. Single parenthood insists the parent teach using the most practical approach to learning: teach using attention to the good and the bad. So yes, I was a teacher and I work at being as practical as possible just like my friends in their formal teaching jobs.
Teaching writing. I taught my children how to write during the summer prior to entering kindergarten. I had a pretty good method and where I lived at the time there were many resources available due to a large population of homeschoolers in town. I bought several workbooks and spent time each morning before I went to work and dropped my kids off at daycare. I kept the lessons happy and uplifting. I focused on the positives and rarely touched on anything they were doing wrong. Except once. My youngest son just did not want to do it. He wanted to play with his toys instead. I had be strict every morning with him at the beginning of the lessons, but as time went on, he stopped complaining and we were then able to focus on what he was doing well. By the end of summer, he was able to write fairly well (for a preschooler) and knew his letters and knew how to write his name. Teaching my kids to write was almost all sunshine and almost no dark.
Teaching driving. When each one of my kids turned fifteen, I took them out to the national forest gravel roads near our home in Utah and taught them how to drive my aging 1997 Ford pick-up. I thought if they could drive a stick in an ancient machine, they would be able to handle the automatic they would be tested in. There was an equal focus on good driving and bad driving. No we didn’t drive near cliffs or endangered plants and animals where their lack of skill would kill us or the local wildlife. The road was very forgiving. After months of Saturday mornings and afternoons spent driving that gigantic truck they knew how to drive. They focused more on the negative than did I. I worked on building their confidence and skill. After they could handle the national forests, then we moved on to paved roads, small town driving, parking, the laws (yes they had their learners permits by the time the drove in town), and how to deal with pedestrians. When it was time to learn driving on the highway and interstate, they were confident and were not even a little scared. I kept showering hem in sunshine, pointing out mistakes without making the mistake into a tragedy where they always took themselves. This approach was a balance of sunshine and dark. The good with the bad.
Teaching about theft. Like many children growing up in single parent homes, all of my kids had brushes with the law. Two were incarcerated for short periods of time for theft. When I visited for the first time in jail, I tried to let as much sunshine come through, but they were so unhappy with their actions, that they overclouded their own feeling with so much doubt and anger, that it was hard. I did not excuse what they did. They always did the community service and other punishments the judges gave them, but I also focused on making the changes in their lives that led to spending time in jail. Both times, it took years of hard work to overcome their own pain and anger over their crimes, but like their other siblings, they went on to college and great careers. I provided as much sunshine as I could and so did the guards and judges, but the dark was always there. In fact, in the beginnings, their experiences were almost completely filled with the dark of what they had done.
Sunshine and the dark is important to education. School and formal education as well as life education. The light has to be used to show all that is good in the student’s experience learning, but the dark has to be there to accentuate error. Some educational needs like handwriting is almost all about showing the positive, but some educational needs like rehabilitating a teenage thief is all about pulling the learner out of the night and into the morning of knowledge and a path forward. No, education is not a just good ignoring the bad or vice versa. There has to be a utilization of both. (844 words six seconds remaining)