They Said What?

The double punctuation here indicates shock and surprise. Surprises can be good, as in when a loved one appears suddenly after an absence. This saying, however, usually shows a surprise that is not so welcome.

It usually is uttered when someone hears an insult. How dare that person speak to you like that? The audacity of it. Often it is because the words are out of character for the person. There will always be those who have no concern for the recipient of harsh and hurtful words; thankfully, they are a minority. Mostly, the words that give rise to shock are uttered in a moment of frustration.

Another common cause of such words is inattention. You get into a mind zone and only partially pay attention to what someone is conveying. Something triggers you, and you respond. Provocative words can sometimes be deployed for such a reason.

These words can often be heard in a home when school reports are being delivered. Some students manage to look like they are doing well until the written report arrives. Then carers receive a shock. The grades are not what they expected. Comments are made that seem to be talking about anyone other than the student you have. It is severely disappointing for some when the perceived effort is not rewarded or stumbling blocks are revealed in the search for academic progress.

Whatever the cause, a barrage of questions usually follows the initial shock, particularly in report season. The most common being ‘Why?’ My experience with this question is that it is rarely ever answered, partially because it implies blame. When something is not as we expect, human nature tends to look for someone to blame. A poor report of any kind is no exception. By all means, examine the reasons behind poor performance but do so after the initial shock has worn off.

Reflection and review is an excellent technique to use. What habits are there in place surrounding study? Habit and consistency are known as being beneficial for mental health and achievement in many areas of life. Learning is one of them. As with anything, it is wise to start small and increase as consistency is gained. Aiming too high too quickly may lead to discouragement and further delay the process.

Listening to your student may uncover many things. Is there something happening in the dynamics of the class that is causing them to be distracted? One of my children had the uncomfortable experience of being placed near another student who bullied him. The teacher could not see it and made the situation worse when attempting to get both to concentrate. It was a horrid patch and resulted in us moving schools. The happy result was that he went from failing grade four to being top of his class in that subject by the end of grade five.

It was not the end of the struggle for our son. His learning style meant that we needed advice and assistance to understand how he learnt. Once we received that private tutor, his learning improved dramatically. It was perhaps the beginning of my interest in and passion for learning. I then discovered that some people read things in colour rather than black and white. For him, it meant writing what needed to be remembered in blue, green, or red. It also meant we had to slow down and give him time to process information. Sometimes, slowing down and focusing on their learning style helps a student overcome their learning hurdle. There may be other factors at play, but I have found that working with someone is far better than demanding that they fit.