What my daughter taught me about learning, teaching and life….

Your daughter needs to practice her pencil grip, would you support her at home?” said her nursery teacher. “Of course” I replied, “teaching is my profession”. I should do more for my daughter.

That evening I was excited to help her. I cleared the table, got the paper, sharpened the pencil and was buzzing with excitement, I then told my daughter to draw a circle. To my horror, two things happened that I didn’t expect. Firstly, my daughter was holding the pencil with a palm, not the three fingers and thumb; and secondly, she wasn’t drawing the perfect circle that I had in mind, she drew randomly on the paper.

I told her she wasn’t doing it right. She immediately replied, “I don’t want to draw daddy, I want to play”. In a split second, using my authority as a father, I said, “No, you need to draw”. Of course, she complied by doing the drawing motions and completely switched off from the task at hand. I could see myself getting angry, so I asked her for the last time, “Do you want to draw?” hoping she would say yes… But no, she just walked off. I was upset that evening, really questioning my ability as a facilitator of learning. Do I truly understand ‘learning’? I was being very hard on myself but I swallowed my pride and explained my experience with her teacher, to which she simply replied, “Jay, you cannot force a child to learn, you need to make it fun and inspire them. Why don’t you get a piece of paper and draw yourself, she will copy you and have fun with you. She will learn, don’t worry, she is only 3 years old”.

The next day I decided to try again, this time I had no expectations apart from simply adoring my little daughter and making the learning experience fun. Thinking back to the teacher’s advice, I acted as a perfect role model, showing enthusiasm and enjoying drawing my circle with absolute love and passion. We had the best time ever as father and daughter. She was very curious about my drawing, just as the teacher had said. It’s safe to say, her circle was so much better than the day before.

My daughter taught me so much, here are my 3 most important lessons…

  1. You can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do. You can only inspire people so that they want to do it.
  2. Learning should be a positive experience; it’s down to the facilitator of learning to ensure the right environment is created for learning.
  3. No matter what the experience is, you can always learn more – even if it’s from a 3-year-old.

I became a man possessed searching for answers to the human mindset, behaviors, and competence. It’s still a journey of discovery. All I know is that the experience has been a turning point in my career and life. I am a better person as a result. All thanks to my little girl.

Written by: Jay Sriskanthan

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