Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More on Rewards, Willy Wonka, and Ooodles More

Well, yesterday was a fun day for Taliesin. We went on a Willy Wonka tour at the Salina Community Theatre. He had so much fun going backstage and seeing how everything works in theater. Then when we saw the children perform who are going to be in the Willy Wonka play, he wanted to get up onstange with them and sing and dance along. So, on the way home, we stopped by the library and picked up a video of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We also picked up a book containing the play. We're having fun with it. Nathanael is even getting in on the fun. He loves inventing dances.
Today was the first day of Taliesin's new art class. It's only a week long, but he really enjoys it. I peeked in at him today through the door and saw him intently working on his building project. He is very passionate about his art. After that, it was off to deliver a small Buyer's Guide route. Taliesin and Nathanael both did a very good job. I was proud of them. They took turns delivering houses. We took a break in the middle of delivering and drank some water and cooled off. They're both very excited over the prospect of earning money to buy a special toy they have both been wanting.
A few weeks ago, Nathanael picked out a book from the bookstore about an ice cream truck. We have been awaiting the musical arrival of the ice cream man down our street every since. Well, today, Taliesin and Nathanael finally had the opportunity to buy ice cream from the ice cream man. Taliesin chose a Ninja Turtle pop and Nathanael a Tweety pop. After all of their hard work today, I felt they definitely deserved it.
I've been giving a lot of thought to the postings on rewards. I've actually been having some interesting conversations regarding rewards. I love conversations that make ya think. So I've been thinking to myself, "Are rewards a good idea for our family? Do children, then, simply work for a reward or for the value of the activity itself? When I work for good grades, am I working just for an "A" or am I working because of the value of the study itself." Then I saw Taliesin today in his art class. When I saw how focused he was on his project and the pride in his eyes when he described it to me, I knew that was a reward it in itself for him. He definitely has a that passion for what he enjoys. Has giving him an occassional reward made him lose his enjoyment in fulfilling his tasks? I saw today that it definitely has not. Then I saw Taliesin and Nathanael deliver newspapers. No, they did not do all of the work at all. They delivered just a few of the papers - but they knew they were working toward a goal. They know that when they get paid, they will be able to save their money to buy something relatively expensive. They have created their own reward. Did that take away from the enjoyment of work? Not at all. I loved watching them giggle as they threw the papers on the porches. They were enjoying their work. But who works for free? I cannot think of anyone who does. They deserve their paycheck at the end of each month. After a couple of times of getting paid, we will have some discussions on giving part of our money away - to charities, to the church, wherever they feel they should give it. Speaking of giving, I was so proud of Taliesin this afternoon. After he ate his ice cream from the ice cream man; he told me, "Mom, we need to make something for the ice cream man. Something good for him to eat for the next time he comes around." So that's next on our agenda. Was the ice cream a reward for doing a good job in art class (and Nathanael behaving very well while we were waiting for Taliesin)? Was the ice cream a reward for doing so well with their new paper route? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But now Taliesin is ready to give to someone who, in a sense, came around at the perfect time for a reward. I think what I have discovered is reward or no reward, it's how our children care about others that really matters. When I see Taliesin making something to give to someone else or damanding that we do not throw something away that can be recycled, I know he truly does care. The same is true of Nathanael. When I see him pick up a worm and talk to it or show deep concern for our pets' well-being, I know he truly cares as well. Yes, they do get rewards at times when they work really hard. Yes, we do refer to our unschooling as "school," in a generic sense of the word. Those are ways for them to relate to life. They see Mommy and Daddy get a paycheck for working. They see neighbors ride the bus to school every day. What they also see is we have our own, individual way of doing things. We do not sit down at worksheets every day for school. We learn from real life and from following their interests. They see that when they work hard, they will get paid as well. Such is life. And when I really think about it, I've always said we homeschool for religious reasons. We unschool because we do not like the way the school system, in general, operates. I believe in unschooling because it offers choices. Children make their own choices. They learn from their mistakes and their failures just as much as they learn from their successes. They do not feel bad about their mistakes, they learn from them. I believe that God, as the ultimate Parent, gives us those same choices and the same free will to make mistakes and learn from them. That said, God, My Father, does reward me. The Bible speaks very clearly about the rewards God has planned for us - words cannot even speak of what we in store for us as our reward. Since I strive to be like God in my parenting, should I view it as wrong to give my children a reward? I, personally, do not think I should.
As for my grades... I love getting good grades. I guess a good question would be why? Why am I passionate about getting good grades? You know what I love about Liberty? They encourage the students to think for themselves - even if that disagrees with the professor, even if that means disagreeing with the textbook. When I get a good grade, that means I accomplished what I set out to do - defending what I believe, no matter who agrees or who disagrees. I can then apply that lesson, that defense, that learning to my life. People often ask me what I want to do when I graduate. I always give them the same plans - writing and lecturing - in defense of what I believe, whatever the subject. Such is life. "But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logcial defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully" (I Peter 3:15, Amplified Bible).


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