Posted by: Robin Koontz | April 27, 2017

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Those are the infamous words spoken by the Majority Leader of the Senate recently as his reason to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren for things he didn’t wish to hear. His invocation of a seldom-used rule backfired and gave a whole lot of us a new battle cry. It goes along with my long-standing mantra: endeavor to persevere. I got the t-shirt.

PersistedRobin

Then I thought about my own persistence when I ran across two report cards from long ago.

#1

2ndGradeReport-2This glowing report is from my second grade teacher. I clearly remember a lively classroom, full of activity and fun.

#2

FourthGradeReport2This is my fourth grade report. I recall a lot of yelling to sit down and shush.

If you look at the comments from each teacher about the same child within a two-year span, you might get a feel for the classroom environment:

#1 “reads orally with expression and ease…volunteers in all phases of our program…uses art media and words to show her lively imagination…actively participates and contributes to our science and social studies program.”

#2 “work is always completed on time…sometimes she is careless about spelling…and handwriting…the letters are not each formed carefully. We need more practice with this.”

Elementary school is often the first time little girls get a chance to overcome obstacles in the real world. I remember my attitude at the time, which isn’t that different today, many decades later: independent, headstrong, curious, mischievous, and always getting into trouble for talking in class (now I just interrupt Marvin). It was impossible to sit and listen to a lecture when the teacher said something that was exciting and interesting! I wanted to comment, or nudge a friend, or ask a question. I persisted in doing that with mixed results. The 2nd grade teacher seemed to allow the behavior; the 4th grade teacher did not.

So, 4th grade was a warning that if I persisted in my unacceptable behavior, I would get into trouble in the future. Just shush and listen. Let us shove information at you and don’t ask questions, just answer when asked. And make sure you shape your letters correctly.

Nevertheless, I persisted in my trouble-making ways and muddled through public school. But I eventually lost interest in everything except for art. Did the child only find freedom to persist in art class and nowhere else?

This is one big reason that I am so happy to be asked to write exciting and interesting books for kids that encourage critical thinking and discussion. These books pose questions that allow the reader to think about their own experiences and how they relate to the subject. Kids are even invited to question the author (or the teacher) and make suggestions for better ways to approach problems. How cool is that?

Here’s a clip from “Poop is Power,” one of my books with Rourke Educational Publishing:

pooppower© 2016 Rourke Educational Media

These kinds of hands-on, welcoming books allow a child to be curious and talk freely about their ideas. They are invited to contribute to their own education, and overall get a chance to learn how to persist in the real world in spite of the obstacles. I think that’s a good thing and am delighted to be part of it.

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