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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Post #2 - Teaching from THE Point of View

Teaching from THE  Point of View



All of our lives, if we live it with eyes closed as if asleep - or squinted as if staring into our own sun and light – our lives (and others lives) will simply and only be seen through our own very own limiting eyes.  It's easy to believe that how we see things is the right way - and only way - to see things.  But that's just not true.


Ask three people who witnessed a crime scene what they saw happen there and they will all tell the details somewhat differently.

          "He had red hair."
           "Nooo, she had green hair, and a red shirt!"
          "Heh!  I saw a dog walking past with a red collar and green booties, but the guy who stole the candy from that baby had a wooden leg!"


Ask two siblings to recall a childhood memory and they will recall memories somewhat differently.

          "Grandma loved ME best!"
          "Are you kidding me?  With THAT nose only her doily-hankie would love you that much!"


Ask yourself one day how you felt about another and then ask again two weeks later about that same day and you will feel somewhat differently.
          "Er, I felt horrible last year with that bad perm and those huge earrings!
          "Man!  Look at me last year!  I was ten pounds skinnier – and had more hair!"



Eyes change.  Vision changes.  How, you ask?  Our brains and minds reframe an event.  But this isn't a science lesson in "recall"; you can Google for more details on this topic, if this intrigues you.

What it IS is a lesson on hormones and chemicals.


 Me Da MAN! 


I AM asking you to consider how hormones and chemicals change how we view things, and testosterone and estrogen in particular. 

Your son is full of testosterone, as is your husband, as well as your pet budgie, your son's friend's pet reptile, and all things furry and warm-blooded, like that thing nibbling its way through boxes of vintage outfits from your youth, and photos.  Testosterone develops the testis and prostrate, muscle mass and big bones, as well as body hair and a sense of well-being. 


The men in your life are loaded with it (20 times more than you) and you get a teensy-weensy bit of it. 

(This isn't you - I hope....)
If you're lucky; that little bit of testosterone will ....
  • help you stand up for yourself a wee bit better,
  • take risks grabbing that last sale item from the clutches of a little old lady, and
  • help you sprint across three lanes of traffic to rescue a rogue chicken.
 And appreciate a wee bit of "fowl" humor, as in….

Your Son:    
Hey, mom.   Why did the rogue chicken cross the road?

Thomas de Torquemada (head of the Spanish inquisition): 
Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I'll find out.




You, on the other hand, are loaded with estrogen and progesterone, the long and short of which probably left you disgusted, confused, or sad about the rogue chicken joke,
but helps you
  • get pregnant,
  • give birth,
  • nurture children to adulthood,
  • survive missed curfews,
  • plan nerve-wracking weddings, and then
  • cuddle grandbabies - and most other babies within arms reach! 
Your son, and your husband too, only get a teensy-weensy bit of it - just enough to receive a quick peck on the cheek in front of their friends,

or offer to babysit a houseful of little 'uns so you can go to the spa for an afternoon - or the toilet for 10 minutes. 
They'd rather run over chickens….then eat them.  With their bare hands....



So, because of testosterone, your son (and the older he gets the stronger these indicators become) will eventually be bigger (in height, weight, heart, lungs, brains, and other organs), stronger, and hairier than you (even WHEN you don't get time to shave your legs!).  



Testosterone makes all the difference in the world. The second it surged through the fetus - your son - his brain changed and now you have a darling little baby, bouncing, brusque, sometimes ill-behaved, full of beans little BOY!  Why?  Testosterone increases aggression, need for dominance, and the establishing pecking orders. 


Testosterone, and the amount of it that coursed through that boy as a fetus, made all the difference, honey.  Start anywhere in the body.  Like the amygdala, which has a lot to do with fear and anger.  Guess what?  In males - it's larger.  So the tendencies toward fight or flight are a lot stronger.  That should make a difference in points of view.  You asked for the garbage to be taken out yet once again - and while YOU saw the ensuing slug through the kitchen door as excessive, he saw it as lots of self-control, because he really wanted to do a Samson on the kitchen's load-bearing wall.




Because of testosterone, there's more spinal fluid in males, which carries messages from the brain to the body and back to the brain.  Imagine a river carrying debris and driftwood – and freighters and swirling eddies of plastic Walmart bags, and then imagine a creek with ducks and dinghies. 
More spinal fluid means more messages of fight or flight (because of the larger amygdala) floating about.  But more messages of flight or flight mean more and faster physical outbursts, bawling, shrieking and shouting, and door slamming. 

(Maybe your daughters sound a lot like this, but there generally isn't as much physicality.  Erasers and rubber boots tend to stay put, while words missile and hissle about like smart bombs.  Oh, well.....)


Oh, because of testosterone did I mention there's less impulse control, as well?  Male brains are larger, on average.  But wait!  Something's smaller IN the brain.  There's the pre-frontal cortex of the brain behind the forehead, which is responsible for planning, long term consequences, decision-making and risk-taking. 
Wanna guess? 
I dare you…..


…. It's not only smaller in boys, but it doesn't fully develop until around 22 years of age!  Girls' pre-frontals develop two years sooner, on average. And you wonder why it's more often than not your son who needs asking,
as you jab a sharp fingernail into his forehead.  Yup, blame the stunt off the roof last year with the skateboard on damp moss and bed sheets-for-a-sail, and the cast, on a smaller pre-frontal cortex and testosterone.

(Note very small pre-frontal cortex.  Sigh...)

Because of testosterone, the left side of the male brain tends to be the preferred side to use.  That side is about conquering spaces, spatial abilities, measuring, mechanical design, details, map reading, and less about the big picture,  visual images, gut feelings, problem-solving using words and collaboration, imagination and fantasy, and emotion.

and less about the big picture,  visual images, gut feelings, problem-solving using words and collaboration, imagination and fantasy, and emotion.


So, because of testosterone and its impact on left-brain development, boys love
  • plastering walls with posters and ceilings with mobiles,
  • playing "King of the Hill" and defending forts,
  • spreading their arms and legs wide to claim territory,
  • building things piece by piece,
  • problem-solving using facts, but 
  • finds reading facial expressions tough,
  • HATES talking and writing about feelings, and
  • finds words-words-words!!!! overwhelming.



There's more.  But for now, chew on the gristle offered above.....

 * * * * *

So, because of his testosterone-soaked eyeballs and your estrogen / progesterone-soothed peepers (and brain and heart and lungs and amygdala and …), that lesson that YOU would like to teach it is going to look a whole different between the two of you.

You see a chair, a table, a stack of books, and a sunny spot in the corner of the kitchen; he sees solitary confinement, for he needs space.  In short, he may see "red."



You see a beautifully laid out set of written instructions, 400 short answer questions, 300 fill in the blanks, a short story of 600 words "because your sister can", a short Alfred Tennyson poem; he sees a moving vehicle outside, a flittering of a bird across the street, a hockey puck in the corner, and an escape route through the open window. 



You see a temper tantrum and "rebellion"; he sees survival of the fittest.  And fastest and fighty-est and flighty-est.


You see problem-solving by talking, heart-to-hearting, chattering, nattering, yaking, explaining, cajoling, threatening, or "let me enlighten you, young man"; and he sees a freight train of words-words-words! and emotion-emotion-emotion! charging toward him – and the smartest thing to do is jump the tracks and head for the hills before his brain jumps outta his skull!  


You see a mess in his room and work space; he sees the need to sprawl and use space.


You see violence; he sees winning a war and conquering the land.

You see him reading a fanciful short story about love and justice; he sees map reading and studying the car manual.  Or the barbeque assembly instruction booklet.

You see a happy-face sticker collection as a reward; he sees action figures with grenades or hefty dinosaurs stomping on poor little chickens as they try to cross the path through the swamp.

In short, you two may see a lot of things differently – and you're asking that your son see things your way, your estrogen/progesterone-soothed way! 
Listen, what’s the chances you speak Mandarin and think like a Chinese gal from Taiwan? Or if you're Asian that you speak Mexican because you grew up in Chihuahua? 
Yet, would we expect two such dissimilar cultures to immediately understand each other because they both have two arms and legs and think a lot of things taste like chicken?  (OK, enough with the poor chicken, already.)




No, sons and moms don't see a lot of things the same way because of hormones and chemicals.  So Mom, before your son goes Samson on you, here's a few tips:



Because of testosterone, let your son access more space. 
                 Post a month's work done well on the ceiling for others to see.

Hang written work from mobiles.

Use posters on the walls as reminder aids.

Use word walls with sticky notes to create a personal dictionary, or a Terms list.

Use chalk and the sidewalk for spelling tests, short poems, illustration of terms, etc.  Just remember to take a photo with your son standing in the photo and pop it into your son's binder or portfolio as evidence of completion.


Because of testosterone, your son cannot handle a lot of words slamming at him, and certainly if they are angry or threatening words.  Chunk words to 5 - 7's.

  •        Print out 5 - 7 spelling words on index cards.

  • Use larger index cards as writing paper (this is a killer of a great idea that I've used for years!), and ask that only 1 paragraph of 5 - 7 sentences be written on each card.  This breaks down the writing into manageable chucks.
  • Require that each card be written within 15 – 20 minutes, a larger yet do-able chunking amount. Each card can be written on separate days in your son's early stages of writing, instead of grinding it all through a day.

Because of testosterone, your son cannot handle loud, threatening, harsh, and confrontational words blasting in his ear; he WILL take you on. 

Talk less!  And then less some more… 

  • Succinctly write out assignment instructions / chores / etc., each on one index card (but no more than 3 cards), providing a blank for your son to check off with a grand flourish as each step is completed.

  • On the card, indicate the reward or type of celebration earned when the task is completed.

  • Post the cards where others can see them so's as to show off, or dangle form a mobile.  OK, female brains don't like to show off – so blatantly.  But, it's not about you and how you see competition and accomplishment, remember?  Wink-wink.
Because of testosterone, writing should be presented as a task, not an emotion-laden burden.  Make writing less about exploring fantasy and feelings and more about a TASK, so write about…
                how to design a …
how to solve the problem of …

how to rescue a …

why boys think better than girls (ha!)

which famous man made the biggest difference/impact/worst decision, and why

which job would be the best for him

how a favorite toy of theirs can save the world

how combing three favorite toys can make him a millionaire
how a Sherman tank moves
how snakes move
a formal letter to a favorite sportscaster, sports star, political figure to explain how or why...

Send poorly done exams and mistakes up in a helium-filled balloon – and hoot and holler your faces off with a grand "Goodbye!" making sure to whiteout names.  Then offer a do-over.

Instead of that infernal, never-ending pile of lined paper that screams at him,
Yer gonna need to write a whooooole
lot of words on that there sheet of
33-lined, 12-words-per-line paper,
m' friend!  SUFFFFFFFER! 
let the poor thing write on 
                  Cardboard boxes (insides and outsides)



Flutter boards

Headboards (of his bed)

Magnetic boards


Poster board

Tri-fold boards

Skate- and surfboards



... so's as not to GET bored! 
Just take a picture of the final product, with our son thumbs-up in the photos – and maybe a prize – and insert into the notebook, portfolio, or binder.



Because of testosterone, boys need ACTION!  and physical activity to let off some of that fight-flight steam induced by words, tight spaces, and meaningless work.  Make a deal with him:

  • 30 minutes work for a 5 minute walk-about, in the same room;
  • 30 minutes work for a 5 minute snack break, in the same room;
  • 45 minutes work for a 15 minute shorter day. 

  • Lunch hour is not a time to sit around, playing on the floor or in their room.  It's outside, running around.

  • Write assignments on paper airplanes, then fire it into binders or bull's eyes or Grandma's waiting and loving arms.

  • Brainstorm and list on large sticky notes – together, BEFORE you start a SHORT writing activity – ACTION WORDS from Roget's College Thesaurus, like saunter, attack, wrestle, slink, skulk, decapitate, snatch, detonate, pilfer, guillotine, ambush, bushwack, funnify,  ….  List words he cannot WAIT to use!

In fact, Google anything using "weird" in front of it, like weird verbs, weird words, weird places, weird nous, and you will most certainly get a ready-made list of words your son will chomp at the bit to use!

OK, now do you see it?  Your son will not write reams of essays, poetry, short stories, and OH-HOW-I-HATE-JOURNALLING entries any time soon.  Without burning the place down. 
You may want to write about all things pink, and soft, and nice, and touchy-feely, and flowery and wordy.  But your son more than likely does not, and will not. 



So, Mom, please bend over to look through the peephole of life, of differences, and try to see what your son sees – and I promise, you will be more than pleasantly surprised.  Or should I say,
 "more than wackily gobsmacked!"
OK, you done good!
Grab a tea or coffee - or warm milk
 set back awhile,
Dancing like there's nobody watching,
Loving like you'll never be hurt,
Singing like there's nobody listening,
And living like it's heaven on earth.
    William W. Purkey 
I found you your very own peephole into heaven!

I'm thinking of you all!



Unknown said...

I sure would appreciate stories about you and your boys. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hah! What a brilliant idea!!!! OK, after the BC homeschool conference is over, orders filled, people hugged and hi-ed, and a brief respite, THEN I shall share my wonderful stories of my wonderful boys. Can you share a few as well? THANKS!