Chopsticks

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Silas wants to learn to eat with chopsticks (“Because when I live in China, I won’t have forks!”). However, chopsticks are…frustrating. Our Chinese friend, Lily, came over one night to teach us to make dumplings. Silas really wanted to eat with chopsticks, but the dumplings kept sliding out of them. He was so frustrated, he was in tears. Lily told him that Chinese children learn by practicing eating popcorn.

We thought that was a hilarious concept, but it also made sense. Popcorn isn’t slippery, and it has lots of crannies to hook the sticks on. So we tried it a few days later.

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He still had a hard time with it–and only managed to do it right for about thirty seconds–but he kept trying. I worry all the time that my kids will be the kind of people who give up on things that are hard. From every piece of research I’ve done since I began researching pedagogy and measures of success, stick-to-it-ive-ness is the greatest predictor of success. Kids who don’t bail when the going gets tough are just better prepared for life, which is full of tough things. It’s a hard thing to teach, especially for kids who have, overall, a very good and relatively uncomplicated life. I don’t want to manufacture frustrations for them so they can learn to tackle them.

Silas seems to have made a leap recently in his willingness to tackle the hard things. He’s started doing puzzles all on his own again. He’s trying to puzzle out how to read, and spends long periods of time working his way through his books. And now the chopsticks–dropping them, and trying again. I’m glad he’s turned this corner.

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