But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain.
– “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns
A schoolteacher’s typical school day ends with a search for wisdom to do better tomorrow. One such wisdom pays a regular visit at four pm: the best-laid plans often go awry.
Last week, I planned for my students to realize the value of differentiation. A bag of old neckties in hand, I gave students the task of accomplishing the basic four-in-hand knot. Newcomers to the skill, half the class received detailed outline, the other a sheet of illustrations. With ten minutes allotted, I walked around, eager for them to safely arrive at my predetermined lesson (different directions yield different outcomes!), which we never reached twenty minutes later.
Like any room of adolescents tasked with a grown-up challenge, they brushed aside the directions in favor of the ol’ college try. A bright palette of odd silks under their upturned collars, success varied from early got it’s, middling almost there’s, and fledgling never gonna make it’s. There came the instinct to bail out a struggling child, coupled with my desire save my sinking ship of a lesson. But it passed when they began to adapt.
Students who got it early reached out to loosen a silk noose. Those in the thick folds of mutual confusion mirrored each other’s movements step by step. By the halfway point of the period, everyone finally had a working necktie. They taught each other to reach this point, and taught me the value of patience.
Three years into my marriage, I inch ever towards the reality of fatherhood, and that scares the shit out of me. I can’t wait to bring a child into this world, but I can wait for the inevitable moments when I screw up, don’t know what to do, and watch my dog-eared parenting methods crumble before my feet.
And even then, the kid will be alright.
Christopher Tuazon is our Hong Kong correspondent and the mind behind The Honor Roll, documenting all things life and style as he endeavors to learn, grow and share.