On another pool date a mother sat her son at the side of the pool, looked deeply into his eyes and said, "Listen, you've just got to do it. You've got to learn to swim. Not when you're 5, now. When you're 4. You can't let life just wash over you like this. You have to live, jump on every opportunity."
"But I don't want to jump, Mommy" the four year old boy replied back, sincerely. "I'll jump into the pool when I've five. I already told you that."
And on yet another evening and yet another parent-swim lesson a mother yelled, "Put your head down! Down, in the water! No, look at me! Swim! Swim! Why can't you just swim?"
I'm sure these are absolutely wonderful parents. I don't doubt how much they love their children, and I don't doubt their ability to raise their children. I am not judging these parents, and I'm not saying they should not be teaching their kids to swim. I'm sure their kids will have great summer memories of learning to swim with their parents.
But if we taught like that in the classroom... Can you imagine? As teachers we learn to watch kids, read them, respond to their needs, break tasks down, talk to them on their level, reward small steps, and understand that if we ask you to do something that requires you to turn your head away from us, we can't yell at you when you don't look at us. We become good at what we do and then we can do amazing things- like teaching a child to read.
After watching frustrated parents at the pool all summer I've found myself wondering, so why does everyone think teaching is so easy?