Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 13, 2010 - The Prodigal Student?

This is a blog primarily about school librarianship. (Really, I should put that somewhere in the title banner or somewhere prominent, so people aren't misled.) However, like most things, the other elements of my life influence what I write about.

I try hard to make just one post a week. Ideally, I try to make it on a Monday (ergo the name of the blog) but as long as I get it close to the day, I'm satisfied.

Today I had a weird converging kind of experience in which parenting, church, and teaching all came together. Today's gospel at church was about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. As I was listening and giving my son the "you need to behave" look, I had an "aha".

If you are familiar with the parable of the prodigal son, you know that a man has two sons. The youngest asks for his share of his inheritance, ditches his family for an extravagant lifestyle in a different country, and ends up destitute. He decides to return home to apologize and settle for working as a field hand for his father, but his father accepts him back with open arms and holds a big celebration. The eldest son is angry with this rejoicing for his n'er-do-well sibling and refuses to join the party; his father explains that the eldest is valued but that his brother's return is worthy of honour.

I happen to have two children of my own. As I've explained before using a car analogy, she is like a hybrid while her younger sibling is like an SUV. It takes a lot more parental energy to get him to run. We love them both a lot; the youngest needs certain tactics (intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, for instance) to help him along. Thankfully, my eldest child is not resentful. I think she knows that equality doesn't mean being treated equally.

Then I realized how this Bible reading can apply to school. If a child consistently brings home As and A+s on their report card, how do you react when in their newest report card, they get As and A+s? Now, how would your reaction be if a child who constantly brings home Ds gets a B? I'd presume you'd praise him/her greatly, make a big deal of it, congratulate him/her. Does that mean you don't appreciate the child with the usually high grades? Not at all. That's why Wayne Hulley's advice to SOS (save one student), given during his talk at the TDSB's "Believe It, Our Time is Now" rally at the ACC, makes a lot of sense and can lead to much celebration if successful. Heck, I think that's why I cheered in the library this week when M. said he found 1 of his 6 overdue books.

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