Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's so Cold Outside...

It's so cold outside and the snow makes it even more chilling. Now back from our dog walk, dog boots off, dog jacket taken off, too, we settle back into the warm living room. I am watching The Waltons, where some of the residents are stressing over World War II,and the new German citizens on Walton's Mountains. Fear has always with been us in various forms. What people do with their fears can ignite a war, cause some to flee, cause others to hide.

Some of the best instruction and skills we can offer students is various coping mechanisms. So many students today lack these basic coping skills. When I was in junior high school, I had to walk a mile to school. There were no cell phones and there were no houses of safety. I walked by myself daily to school with a heavy book bag. I had to develop and strengthen my personal coping mechanisms and deal with my fears. There were many incidents with cars, and loose animals, however I was on my own. There were no cell phones. There was no way to call for help or have anyone to assist me. I had to cope on my own and figure out an alternate route or a way to keep moving without being attacked by a loose growling dog.

Many students, the same age as I was are lacking these coping mechanisms. They quickly turn to their parents for help. They text when they can't talk. They have an endless umbilical cord from which they use to help them cope with this or that. By reaching out to parents constantly, they are not developing their own coping mechanisms and their own problem solving skills, which we all know are absolutely vital to develop when we are young and fine tune with each subsequent year.

Fears can override the best of us. Fears of the German invasion during World War 11, the Japanese invasion, the Cuban Missiles Crisis, the race wars and race riots, Vietnam and other devastating effects all residual effects based on fear. Today's fears are based on economics, health, terrorism....but all fears are the same and they can paralyze us or force us to make decisions based on those fears. We need to help students develop some basic problem solving skills and exercise their coping mechanism muscle. We need to encourage deep thinking and thinking of alternative responses. These skills may not be specifically considered Common Core, but the integrated deep thinking and problem solving are. Why not create some activities where we challenge students asking how they would cope with this or that, if their cell phone service and all cell phone service went down for days at a time. That would put them on equal footing with those of us who grew up without this digital umbilical cord.