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Concepts aren't taught in a vacuum

August 14, 1997|By James Dobson

Question: I assume that you favor a highly structured curriculum that emphasizes the memorization of specific facts, which I consider to be a very low level of learning. We need to teach concepts to our kids and help them learn how to think - not just their heads with a bunch of details.

Dr. Dobson: I agree that we want to teach concepts to students, but that does not occur in a vacuum. For example, we would like them to understand the concept of the solar system and how the planets are positioned in rotation around the sun.

How is that done? One way is for them to learn the distances between the heavily bodies, i.e., the sun is 93 million miles from earth, but the moon is only 240,000. The concept of relative positions is then understood from the factual information. What I'm saying is that an understanding of the right factual information can and should lead to conceptual learning.

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Question: Our children are all on their own now and my husband and I are free to do some of the traveling we always planned to do when we got them through college. But lately I feel too tired even to keep the house clean, and too depressed to care about planning or doing anything extra. I'm only 46, yet some days I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. I just want to put my head under the pillow and cry. Why do I feel so terrible? My husband is trying to be patient, but this morning he growled, "You have everything a woman could want ... what do you have to be blue about?" Do you think I could be losing my mind?

Dr. Dobson: I doubt if there is anything wrong with your mind. The symptoms you describe sound as if you may be entering menopause, and if so, your discomfort may be caused by the hormonal imbalance that accompanies glandular upheaval.

I suggest that you make an appointment to see a gynecologist or other physician in the next few days. He or she can help you.

How to get through to him

Question: I've talked and talked to my husband about how I'm different from him and how I need him to be sensitive to my needs. Somehow, he just doesn't "hear" it. I've also gotten mad at him about a hundred times. How can I get my feelings across to him?

Dr. Dobson: One very effective way to express your feelings is to paint a word picture. My good friends, Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent, described this technique in their book, "The Language of Love." In it, Smalley told a story about his wife. Gary would come home from work and clam up. He had nothing to say all evening. Finally, his wife told him story about a man who went to breakfast with some friends. He ate a big meal and then he gathered up some crumbs and put them in a bag. Then he went to lunch with some business associates and ate a big steak. Again, he put a few crumbs in a doggie bag to take with him. Then when he came home that night, he handed his wife the little bag of leftovers.

"That's what you are doing to me," said Norma. "All day the children and I wait to talk with you when you get home. But you don't share yourself with us. After being gone all day, you hand us a doggie bag and turn on the television set."

Gary said hearing that story was like being hit with a two-by-four. He apologized and began to work on opening himself to his wife and his family.

Try creating a graphic word picture to communicate your needs to your husband. It is far more effective at getting masculine attention than a torrent of hostile comments.

James Dobson is president of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the home. Write to him in care of The Herald-Mail Co., P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md. 21741.

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