Learning sometimes follows a skewed path

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child


Editor's note: Lisa Prejean is on vacation. This column originally was published in May 2007.

In five to seven sentences, write about what you'd like to be when you grow up.

At some point in our grade-school years, we've probably all been given this assignment in one form or another.

And what did we do? We picked a profession, wrote about why we'd like to have that job and how our interests would lead us into that line of work.

Most people identify themselves with what they do, not with who they are.

True to our cultural outlook, my third-graders recently followed suit.

When asked about what they wanted to be when they grow up, most of their writings centered on the jobs they'd like to have, not the persons they'd like to become.

Can't blame them, can we? Most of us would do the same.

This was one of our last writing assignments of the year, a fitting one to finish off our creative writing collection.


One girl said she'd like to be a teacher because, among other things, she'd like to write on the board.

Ahh ... the simple things in life.

A boy said he plans to become a baseball player because he wants to earn "at least 2,000,000 bucks."

He's quite confident that he's worth it, promising 23 home runs in one game.

Another student wants to work in a hospital because she doesn't think people should die.

Her tender heart, full of compassion, had me thinking about how much I love to read what my students write.

Then I picked up the next paper on the pile.

This little one wants to make video games. His first will be named, "The Killer Spider." I'll be careful not to pair him with the ones who wrote about their love for animals.

As I'm out and about, people who know that I'm a teacher have started to ask, "So, how many days do you have left? I'm sure you're counting."

I just smile and say, "Yeah, school's out next week. You know, I'm going to miss the kids."

Most people look back at me with a, "Yeah, right!" smirk on their faces.

Honestly, I do enjoy being around children. (Shouldn't every teacher?)

My summer plans include being with children as well. In addition to spending time with my own children, there's a week of camp planned and I'll be teaching at my church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I look forward to making the lessons exciting for the children.

Even though my classroom focus is heavy on academics, my aim is not just that the children will learn their lessons so they eventually can get a good job.

I want them to learn how to get along with the people who surround them. The situations we're thrust into aren't always the ones we would design for ourselves, but if we're willing to learn from each environment, we will grow.

If we learn to respect the feelings of those around us, they will be more willing to partner with us on important projects. Those who feel that they are a vital part of a team always pull their weight.

If we learn to listen to others' opinions, they will be more likely to listen to ours.

If we honor the authority placed over us by obeying existing rules, we may have an opportunity to make an appeal that will facilitate change.

If we encourage those around us through their failures, they will support us through ours ... and we'll all be more willing to try to tackle the issue again.

It's the nontraditional lessons we learn that can help us the most as we "grow up."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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