Assume Nothing

The  Roland keyboard  I use for composing.

The Roland keyboard I use for composing.

I was explaining to my student Nadia, age 7, that there were keyboard instruments before there were pianos.

“There was one called a harpsichord,” I said.

She looked over at the Roland keyboard perched on its side against the wall.

“Is that one of those harpsichords?” she asked.

“No, that’s not a harpsichord. That’s a keyboard and it requires electricity. In the days of harpsichords they didn’t have electricity.”

Nadia looked confused. “How did they watch TV?”

Sometimes I find myself taking shortcuts. Just because I explained something to one 7-year-old one week doesn’t mean that it’s automatically been entered into the minds of all the students I teach the following week. (Said 7-year-old might have forgotten it anyway!)

Take the time to explain things. Don’t hurry. Be kind.

Once, a very long time ago, someone explained things to me that I now take for granted. Things that seemed amazing to me as a little girl, like color televisions, are commonplace. Electing (and re-electing!) an African American as President was unimaginable when I was a child. As teachers, we are responsible for creating context for all the learning that goes on in our corner of the world. As I transition into being older than most of the population I find myself learning more and more from my own children.

Be patient. The learning goes both ways.