Teaching styles are so important. It seems to me that every person who hates math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them hate math. Every person I know who loves math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them love math. I love math, and it’s because of my 7th Grade math teacher, Ms. Jane Crowley. It wasn’t one thing she did that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply in the way she taught us. She loved math, and that alone went a long way to help us to love math. Her husband’s job changed, and she moved away, so we threw her a goodbye party at the end of the year. We altered the lyrics a bit of the title song of the movie, “To Sir. with Love” and sang “To Jane, with Love”. She cried and hugged all of us. Wherever you are, Ms. Crowley, we still thank you.
When our daughter, Whitney, was a teenager, Kim and I struggled to teach her to trust our judgment and to use good judgment herself. Whit would push back quite a bit and try to get us to reverse some family decisions (just as any teen does). Most of our discussions centered around receiving the Holy Ghost, which helps each of us to know the right way. When Whitney started driving, she became very quickly a responsible driver. One week, a friend invited Whitney to a party, and she asked Kim if she might plan to go and whether she could use the car. Kim replied that she trusted Whitney’s friend, but that for some reason, she was uncomfortable with Whit attending that party. After some discussion, Kim suggested that Whitney ask me. When Whit asked, I replied that I trusted her friend, but that for some reason, I was uncomfortable with her attending that party. Whit explained that Mom had given her the same answer, and after some discussion, we left it up to Whit to make the decision. We knew Whitney had experience receiving the Holy Ghost and was generally a responsible decision-maker. She considered our counsel and then decided to plan to go. On the night of the party, as she drove to her friend’s house, Whitney happened to misjudge a center divider on a freeway overpass, overcorrected, amazingly managed to keep control of the car while blowing out three tires and bending two rims before coming to rest at the far end of the bridge just at the top of a plunging hill. As she caught her breath afterwards, she said, “OK, Heavenly Father, I get it. You don’t want me to go to this party. Next time, I’ll listen more deeply to my parents.” From then on, Whitney always trusted our judgment, stopped giving us grief, and no longer challenged our authority. It was one of the best lessons ever in our family, and we weren’t the teachers—It was the Holy Ghost who taught Whitney that night. All we did as parents was to create the right environment for teaching to happen.
When I think about our teaching style, I don’t think it was one thing that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply the way we taught our kids. We love to receive the Holy Ghost, and that alone went a long way to help our kids to love to receive the Holy Ghost.
I think some of life’s best teaching moments just seem to happen as life unfolds.
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Header photo, “Father And Child Light A Menorah”—www. mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/religious-freedom
- Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Prayer…”—media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/prayer/ family-praying-921856-tablet.jpg
- Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Study…”—media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/education/spiritual/ dominican-republic-early-morning-seminary-1206571-tablet.jpg
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