Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Expected More

"I expected more"
"Doesn't apply himself"
"Should try harder"
"Keeps stealing the chalk"
"Has so much more potential"
"Could do so much better if he tried harder"
"He should stop talking to all the girls"

These were statements common on all my report cards since I was old enough to read my own report cards.  Which was really only around grade 9 or so... but according to most of my teachers, I've been the classic underachiever.
Not going to be an underachieving Dad!

They would see my effort and always expect more from me.  Now, granted, I was not the most studious student at times.  There were just so many other fun things to do than to study and work hard in class!  To be honest, I never studied through all of my High School career.  But I managed to graduate with Honours from High School.  I guess that was my problem.  I could coast and still pull of an Honour Roll Average.

I mean, it did take a certain creative genius, when coming to class 45 minutes late, to think ahead and roll around in the snow bank and show up to class dripping wet covered in ice to try to convince the teacher that we got the car stuck in the snow bank and we had to dig it out, hence the reason for our tardiness...  However, teachers don't appreciate that kind of effort.  Had the realized how hard it was to avoid going to class, I think they would have appreciated my work effort a little more.  I mean, just by sheer luck, I think I would have wound up in class more than I did if I didn't work so hard on avoiding it...


Ok, I will admit that maybe, just maybe my attitude wasn't that great in school.  I looked at my marks and though "Well shoot, if they aren't happy with an 85% average, then they aren't going to be happy with a 99% average either." and kind of tuned out most of my teachers... except for a couple of them.

There was Mr. Gatta, who in grade 7 had signs hung up all over the class room.  Filled with pearls of wisdom, such as:  "There are two types of people in the world - Italians, and those who want to be Italians",   or "Learn from the mistakes of others, because you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself."  Actually, that second one came in handy often.  :-)  I learned a lot from my older brother during my teen years.  Stuff like "Always remember to pee in the back lane on the lamp post when wandering home when it was waaaaay too late"... er, you know what, Senior K and Big D, maybe you guys should just stop reading this post...  Lets just assume there is nothing redeeming about your father in the next few hundred words.

Anyway, I had one teacher in College who left a rather large impact on my schooling career.  Mr Rizvi (if that is how you spell his name), who taught Physics.  I remember the first class we had with him, it was raining.  He went on describing how some people find thunder and lightning "arousing".  Which was great.  I mean, that is why I was paying the big bucks for my higher education!  Where was I going with this story?  I distracted myself... sorry.  Okay, right, so in Calculus, only like 6 people passed the mid-term.  Which really wasn't great out of class of almost 40 people.  But what happened was even worse.  The Teacher stopped coming to class.  We went to the Dean of the department and informed him that the teacher was no longer showing up.  He assured us that the teacher was in class.  Which, again, he wasn't.  This went on for over 2 weeks.  Which is bad, because there was only 6 weeks of classes between the mid-term and final exam.  Thankfully, Mr Rizvi stepped in for the last 3 or 4 weeks of class and tried to cram in the 6 weeks of lessons in that shortened period.  Needless to say, the school system somewhat failed our class that semester.  However the complete lack of caring from the Dean and Teachers left a mark.  They had no expectations for us.  They just didn't seem to care.

Rewind a little bit to Grade 11 Computer Sciences in High School.  Mr Windfield, our computer teacher at the time was a nice enough guy, but unfortunately he "expected  more from me."  This was no more apparent than all when my friends would copy my work and hand it in.  They would routinely get better marks than I would.  After a while, I finally talked to my teacher about this, pointing out that Mat and Carl and others had simply copied my works, I even showed the source code, indicating places where my friends were too lazy to change the name of the author from my name to theirs.  Mr Windfield looked me dead in the eyes and said "I know.  But I expect more from you."  Expect more from me?!  I expect to be treated fairly!  If Matt got an A, then I want an A!!!  *siiiigh*

I might still have issues to deal with here...

Rewind to Grade 9 English, and I had a lovely teacher by the name of Mrs Young.  She may have been maybe the only teacher who actually encouraged me.  Well, her and Mr Gatta (the Italian mentioned earlier) both taught me English at different times, and both had, I think, the most profound impact on my schooling during my High School years.  See, both of them "Expected more of me"... but instead of demanding that I work harder, or demanding that I do more than others, they tried the crazy novel approach of encouraging me.

I remember Mr Gatta would hang my essays outside his office door for others to read.  That Mrs Young would encourage me and actually take time to spend with me reviewing work and building me up.  That they were both advocates for me and encouraging me to get involved in more and more activities at school.

I'm sure that all the teachers had the best intentions.  I know Mr Windfield really did hold high hopes for me, and oddly enough, I wound up in a career of writing software, not English literature.  So maybe Mr Windfield really was the best at getting me motivated to grow... I'm not sure, because writing has become a hobby which I love.

But I do know that I do respond well to encouragement (duh, I'm sure most of us do) and not so well to demands of "do better".

Anyway, I digress as this post is already too long... but really, what dose this have to do with adoption.... only that I find some days I "demand more" from my children, and I don't give them the love and encouragement that they deserve.

Some days, it's easier to "demand better" than to "encourage growth."

Looking back over my life, I want to be the kind of parent that encourages growth in my children, who spurs them on to greater things by creating environments where they can grow, prosper and succeed.  I don't want to ever "demand better" from them, unless I am willing to invest the time and encouragement to help them to actually become better.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as someone who loves learning and hates school, I hear ya! We're being careful with the Pipsqueak, who so far seems to enjoy school most of the time but really seems to love that whole "learning thing". Sometimes the lessons come from encouragement, sometimes from demanding better, and sometimes from simply encouraging slight improvement. All of it is dependent upon investing the time you speak of -- I think your kids will do just fine... and that you learned more than you might be willing to admit, yourself! :-)