Last week M-girl had a substitute ballet teacher. As I peered through the window in between chapters of the book I was reading, I noticed that the sub was doing things a bit differently than her regular teacher, but I really didn't think much of it at the time. Of course, I quit ballet at the ripe old age of three, so I'm not exactly an expert.
When class was over, I asked M-girl how it was having a sub. She looked up from changing into her street shoes, and replied in a subdued tone, It was fine.
No sooner had we shut ourselves into our car than her real feelings emerged.
Mom, it was horrible! she said. She didn't teach us anything. She seemed like a very nice person, but she was too nice to be a teacher. She wouldn't correct us at all!
As both a mom, and a homeschool teacher I was surprised and pleased by this outburst from my 8 year old daughter. Further discussion revealed that M-girl, suspicious that the sub was overly praising the students, began to purposely do the dance steps wrong - and was never corrected.
Contrary to what some adults might think, she wasn't relieved at the lack of pressure...she was outraged. I think she really felt insulted that the sub was underestimating her abilities, and liberally handing out worthless praise.
I couldn't resist jumping on the opportunity to point out that my hubby and I demand their best from her and her siblings, because to do less would indeed be cheating them of the opportunity to find out what they are capable of. She agreed, in her worked up, angry state of mind.
I'm not kidding myself. I know that there will be plenty of battles ahead with my children. My hubby and I will have to be tough sometimes, and push them to meet marks that they see no need of reaching. We'll do it because we love them, and we want them to reach their individual potentials.
It was really nice to have my daughter express so clearly her desire to learn and to be challenged to do better. It can be easy for parents fail their kids with the best of intentions. It's natural to want to shelter our children from the setbacks that true challenges entail. It's becoming all to common these days to hand out trophies and prizes to children just for participating, instead of allowing them to experience the sense of achievement that only hard work and practice can bring. Empty praises mean nothing, and kids are smart enough to pick up on that. Rewards that come too easily don't feel truly earned.
So thank you substitute ballet teacher. You are a nice lady, and I owe you one. I just won't be putting my daughter in your class again. She is a girl who wants to learn.
linking to: Pour Your Heart Out