Teaching Learning: Helping Your Kids Gain the Learning Skills They Won't Get Taught in School

Teaching Learning: Helping Your Kids Gain the Learning Skills They Won't Get Taught in School

by Sid Jacobson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475993493
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/09/2013
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

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Teaching Learning

Helping Your Kids Gain the Learning Skills They Won't Get Taught in School


iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Sid Jacobson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4759-9349-3


Your Role

At some time or other most parents want, or feel compelled, to help their kids with their schoolwork. It can be a pretty scary task, too. Sometimes we don't know what we're trying to help them with much better than they do. Sometimes we don't know it at all. Sometimes we do, but we don't know how to get the idea across in a way that makes sense for our kids. We can't know all the answers. What we can know, however, are the answers to why we want to help in the first place. Maybe it's because they asked for the help. Maybe not. Perhaps someone else, like their teacher, asked us to help them, or motivate them, check on them, or stand over them. For lots of the parents I've worked with, it's because they are afraid. Afraid of what their kids won't know, or be able to do in a more competitive, complicated world. For some, they remember how much trouble they had, and they think, or at least hope, they can make it easier on their kids than it was for them. Sometimes they're right.

I think it really is useful to spend some time thinking about these things, here, before we get started. Preparation is valuable. Your intentions will often be your guide. If you don't have some justification that satisfies you, it sure won't satisfy them. Be able to explain yourself to your kids; it's part of the process.

Another part is that you be willing to be a model for what you teach them. Again, if you can't demonstrate that something is important to you, or a part of you, they won't buy it (learn it). This includes, especially, being willing to be a student for life. If you demonstrate to your kids that you really believe learning and studying are important, it will help tremendously. I've heard too many parents tell their kids: "I did my time in school. Now it's your turn." That's like blowing cigarette smoke in their faces and telling them not to smoke.

You also, certainly, want your kids to be healthy and safe, have good relationships with others, value the things you do and learn to be successful in their world. Knowing how to teach them those things is much more complicated than just saying the words to them. Most important beliefs and experiences in life are much bigger than the words we use to talk about them. How you handle the things that are really important teaches your kids how to do the same, often regardless of what you say about those things. We'll talk more about being a good role model later.

Who are You?

So now it's your turn: "Who are you?" Before you answer, think about the question in terms of what's most important to you as a person. Is the first answer that comes to mind what you do for a living? A plumber, an accountant, a brick layer, a doctor, a homemaker, or whatever? Is that who you are, really, or is it just what you do. If they are the same, think about it some more. People who describe themselves as being what they do miss the richness of what it means to be a human being. What you do may be an important part of you, but you are much more.

You are more than any role you play: work, parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, whatever. There is something more central to you as a person, something that stays the same even when your role changes. More than your "personality." More than your personal preferences, likes, dislikes, things you do or don't do, your habits, or your beliefs. Do you know yourself down deep inside? Most of us probably haven't examined ourselves as completely as we could. Perhaps now would be a good time to delve a little deeper.

Good questions lead us to more than good answers. They lead to wisdom. For this reason, I'll be posing lots of questions throughout this book. Remember, there isn't always a right, or best, answer. Some of these questions are simply to help you think in new ways; and even lead yourself into more questions of your own. It's more about the search than the answers—a journey, not a destination.

So, in answer to the question, "Who are you?" perhaps you could start with what you believe about yourself and others, especially in relationship to your kids. Are you smart? Capable? Loving? Honest? Happy? Do you believe your kids are these things? Do you talk about it with them? Do you believe you can help them become better people? Better students? Do you know yourself well enough to answer these questions?

Just as important, maybe most important in the context of what we are doing here, is the question: "Who are you in the eyes and ears of your child—the one you want to help learn better in school and in life?" Your ability to help a child learn is directly proportional to your relationship with that child. It's crucial.

Because this is a book, I can't be with you while you read it, or while you use what's in it. I can, however, help you put it in a framework that can make it work for you in helping your kids grow and develop in ways that will be worthwhile. I'll give you steps to follow and guidelines about thinking about people, children and learning. Also, this can be a great personal growth experience for you as well as your child or children.

Parenthood is a big responsibility and a big challenge. A friend of mine often points out how great it would be if people came with an "operator's manual" that would tell us what to do when something doesn't work right. We don't have one, though, and until one comes along, those of us in the business of teaching and writing will continue to develop the parts of it that we can. Think of this book as part of the operator's manual you never got when your kids showed up in your life. It's the part about how people learn, or don't, and what to do to make it work better.

Many people are scared half to death of raising kids. "What if he turns out to be a criminal?" "What if she never learns how to behave?" "What if ...?" Some perspective is in order here. Think about your own life. If you remember back to when you were a kid, maybe the age of one of your own, it undoubtedly looked a lot different from how it looks now. You probably had totally different questions about your life than you do now. You would certainly describe yourself based on much different things than you did then. You may not feel the same about much of anything. Look back on some of the people you grew up with. Some probably turned out to be very successful, others not so much. Which ones turned out the way you expected? Which ones didn't? How about the ones that people said things like this about?: "He's headed for a life of crime!" or "She'll never amount to anything." or "That's the one who's going to own half this town." How many of those you expected to lead a life of crime turned out pretty normal? Be honest. How about the others, the ones everyone said were headed for stardom of some sort? How many made it? We know from many studies that what happens in school doesn't predict very well how people are going to turn out. It just doesn't. The vast majority of people end up somewhere in the middle in most ways we measure, regardless of what we predicted when they were young. Sure there are exceptions, but that's what they are: exceptions.

Who you learn from is often as important as what you think you learn, because in any relationship we learn much more than surface information. That's what relationships are about. The more we know about ourselves, the more we can get out of each relationship we have. The reason for these questions about you, and my description of myself to you, is that learning in school, or in life, is a team effort. Everyone has a role—teachers, parents, professionals, and the community as a whole. To the extent you make what is in this book work for you, that is the extent to which I can be on the team with you, and help make the process more fruitful and enjoyable for you and your kids.

Relationship and Task

Relationship and Task are different. From the time we were small, we all learned to do lots of things. Tie our shoes, brush our teeth, read, count, talk, think. We learn procedures, series of tasks. Most of us are good at doing things (tasks), at least the ones we think are important, or ones that got drummed into us. But what about relationships? When did we learn how to do these? In class? I don't think so. In our families? Maybe, if we were very lucky and had parents or others who knew how to teach us. Most of us just learned through trial and error and by paying attention to how others "do" relationships and using them as models. We see and hear our role models behaving in lots of different ways; and learn to copy them, whether we like it or not. And, if these role models weren't very good at relationships, well ...

I find this whole thing odd, frankly. Half of what we need in life is to make relationships work. Otherwise, it doesn't matter what the task is. If we have to do something with other people, we need to manage the relationship with those people, or the task is going to be very tough. If the relationships are good, it makes everything easier and more effective, but we get no formal training in how to do it.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can learn to have relationships that work. It isn't hard or mysterious. In fact in NLP we know a lot about how relationships work. Any relationship. The one we have with the kids is part of the task of teaching them. It's just as important as anything else in the process.

How Does Learning Work, and What Can You Do?

First of all, you don't have to be a teacher to teach (or a student to learn, for that matter). Sure, teachers get formal training about what to do with kids; and what to teach them. They also get some theories about why kids learn or don't learn; and a little about what to do when they don't. But they get very little training in how people actually learn—much less than you might think. In fact, most of them, candidly, will tell you this. Many only get a little bit of some mostly sorely outdated psychological theory about development; and a few theories that combine educational and psychological ideas about what to do in certain situations. But if you ask them how people learn—take in information, work it into their own understanding, compare and blend it with what they already know and who they are, how they store it in their minds and later retrieve it, and how this leads them to new learning—they will generally be at a loss to give you good answers. They just don't know because they haven't been taught. This isn't universal, of course, but still seems to be the norm.

Just as sad, they've been taught precious little about relationships. Sure they know that it's important to have good relationships with the kids in their classes, but they've never been taught how relationships work. They learned just like the rest of us. In that sense, you have an advantage over every teacher your kids will ever have. You have a relationship already. Hopefully a good one, but a relationship nonetheless. It can be the basis of helping your kids to learn. Anything.

Learning can be planned, organized and intentional. Most learning isn't, though. Most of what we learn, we learn on our own. The majority of that probably comes through trial and error. After a certain age; and certain life experiences, we get a lot of new learning through reading, figuring things out alone or with others, and by being in situations in which we have to experiment to get through. Trial and error, though, is a mediocre teacher. Not terrible, just mediocre. It leaves lots of gaps and disorganization. It also leaves lots of stuff that got there through luck and coincidence, rather than usefulness and good sense. Trial and error sometimes teaches what, sometimes where and when, but almost never how, why or with whom.

Think about how you learned to do something specific. Maybe ride a bike, drive a car, throw or kick a ball, run, swim, cook, anything. Did you have someone teach you? Probably. They probably told you or showed you some of what you needed to know. For example, in riding a bike, they probably helped you get on and showed you where to put your hands and feet. They probably helped you get your balance to begin with. They probably showed you how pushing down on the pedals moved the wheels and how pressing or squeezing the brakes, made them stop. But at some point you had to learn how to balance yourself in an upright position. You had to learn how much pressure to put on the pedals and how your feet needed to work together. You went from turning the handlebars to make the bike turn, to actually leaning your body gently and smoothly to make it happen. In fact, you learned at some point how to do all these things at the same time, in a coordinated fashion. If you didn't, you can't ride. Maybe you're good at it, though. Imagine going to a professional bike racer and having that person give you a lesson. Do you imagine this expert would tell you that you do it perfectly? With great efficiency, economy of motion, grace and power? Probably not. An expert would most likely find lots of things you do that could be changed and improved. Some of these would be things you don't even know you're doing. Maybe the positioning of your feet, the height of your seat, how far you lean, the timing of your motions, and so on. Even if they're really subtle, small changes could have a major effect on how you ride.

Now think about something much more important in your life today, probably, than riding a bike: driving a car. How many things do you actually have to do at one time? Well, there's the steering wheel, the gas and brake pedals, and perhaps a clutch pedal as well. If it isn't an automatic, that means one hand has to know what to do with the gear shift lever, coordinated along with the clutch pedal. And each one of these objects is operated in a different fashion, different pressures, in different directions, in harmony (hopefully) with one another. You have two or three mirrors to help you see behind you, as well as watching in front and to the sides. This requires some pretty sophisticated timing and coordination between what you see, and what you do with your hands and feet. And none of this includes all the rules, road conditions—even hazards—and all the other things you do while you're driving (carry on a conversation or two, maybe even on the phone, operate the radio, eat, drink and other dangerous things that people do). If you had to consciously think about any of these too much you wouldn't be able to drive at all. Unfortunately, almost everyone thinks they're really good at it, too. It's why so many keep crashing into each other. Like in bike riding, there are experts who could teach us to do it better.

Over the years we've discovered that people who are really expert at something do different things from the rest of us. Usually these are small things that never occurred to us, or that we thought were too small to make a difference. Sometimes they aren't.

Now, think for a moment about things like spelling, reading, math and other academic skills. These really are skills. Like riding a bike, driving a car or anything else, there are lots of little details that make it work and lots more that make it work well. None of the things that make these skills work really well are taught in school, at least as far as I can tell. Many teachers and even some people who design the curriculums don't know any better than most other people about those small details that really produce academic skills, much less excellence. Even when they do, it doesn't mean they know how to teach it to everyone in schools.

Excerpted from Teaching Learning by SID JACOBSON. Copyright © 2013 Sid Jacobson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments....................     xv     

Introduction....................     xvii     

PART 1 Preparing Yourself: Parent as Teacher....................          

Introduction to Part 1 You Can Do More Than You Know....................     1     

Chapter 1 Your Role....................     3     

Chapter 2 Understanding People, the Basics....................     15     

Chapter 3 Understanding Relationships, The Basics....................     31     

Chapter 4 Communication....................     37     

Chapter 5 Understanding the Task....................     45     

Chapter 6 Understanding Systems (School and Otherwise) And Working with
Teachers....................     59     

PART 2 Teaching skills: How to Do It....................          

Introduction to Part 2 Intention....................     71     

Chapter 7 Rapport and Flexibility....................     77     

Chapter 8 Kinds of learning: Six Categories....................     85     

Chapter 9 Paying Attention to Paying Attention....................     93     

Chapter 10 Common Sense(s): Using the Five Senses You Were Born with......     105     

Chapter 11 Creating and Setting Up Learning Experiences...................     119     

PART 3 The Skills of Learning: Things Your Kids Won't Learn in School,
about Learning....................          

Introduction to Part 3 Teaching Your Kids What They Really Need to Learn..     135     

Chapter 12 How to Control Your State of Mind....................     137     

Chapter 13 How to Come to Your Senses (And Remember What You Learned
Later)....................     159     

Chapter 14 How to Learn From Reading....................     203     

Chapter 15 How to Communicate Effectively....................     225     

Chapter 16 How to Study to Learn, Remember and Use What You've Learned....     239     

PART 4 Troubleshooting and Getting More Help When You Need It.............          

Introduction to Part 4 Whose Problem Is This, Anyway?....................     259     

Chapter 17 When the Problem Is Yours....................     261     

Chapter 18 When the Problem Is the Kids'....................     267     

Chapter 19 When the Problem Is the School's....................     287     

Chapter 20 Working with Consultants....................     291     

Appendix I A Special Note to the Parent of a Child with a "Diagnosis".....     301     

Appendix II A Special Note for Practitioners of NLP....................     303     

Chapter Notes....................     307     

Recommended Books for Further Study....................     325     

Index....................     331     

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