It takes time

It takes time

Thursday, 4 September 2014  | Di - Primary School Coordinator
“One aspect of the world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by the 30 second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by 30 page abridgements.” A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Peterson 2000

This quote from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction resonated with me as I thought about what it means to work in education. Although Peterson is setting the scene for talking about discipleship, it reminded me that there is no efficiency in the sometimes messy business of working with children and families. There is nothing instantaneous about a young person’s growth toward maturity or a student’s consolidation of their learning and of their ability to negotiate and get along with others.

We would be foolish to think that a child can become literate and numerate without any effort, or reach higher academic achievements without lots of consistent hard work. In the same way we would be unwise to think that a young person could become a person of character and integrity, a disciple of Christ without teaching and training, modeling, prayer, making some mistakes and a bit of heartache and lots of consistent discipline and love in their life.

Yet the world we live in constantly tells us that everything is instant and instantly obtained. How many of us get frustrated when there is a time lag of a couple of seconds as our computer boots up? I know I get annoyed if the little wheel starts spinning. The speed of connection and access we have to instant information via the internet, fools us into a false reality. Our iPhones constantly keep us connected to others and remind us that everything is possible immediately. 

We watch reality TV and see whole houses and backyards transformed in minutes. If only my half acre of messy backyard and falling down retaining walls could be transformed between a few advertisement breaks. I know that to see my backyard transformed is going to take many a weekends worth of backbreaking work. Those retaining walls aren’t going to be built by the secret army of workers just off screen.

This all reminds me that as parents and teachers we need to remember that education and growth take time. Our children are all uniquely different and each one will get there at their own rate. Sometimes the messiness of seeing them fall over and make mistakes and not be able to do things makes parents anxious. We want to fix it. We want to save our children from pain. We want it to be good and perfect and immediate. However the reality is that our kids are going to need to work at things. They may have to work at their schoolwork or at relationships or at things that don’t come easily to them. They will need to learn resilience and perseverance, kindness, gentleness and forgiveness. As parents and educators we must be patient and positive, we must help them persevere. We must encourage, love and discipline. We need to set positive frameworks for our kids. We may not see results immediately; it may take years! But we must not give up when the going is tough. So take heart if you are encouraging your VCE student to keep going and hang in there this term, or if your five year old is not getting going with reading and writing yet or your Senior Primary student is having lots of troubles with friends and doesn’t want to come to school or your Junior Primary kid is getting into fights and hassles with others or your teenager says its plain boring...

Let us not fall into the trap of wanting growth in our kids to happen immediately. This is not reality TV - it is real messy life and real messy life is not an abridged 30-page book. It is more like the Complete Works of Shakespeare full of love, broken relationships, repentance, forgiveness, joy, sadness and hope! 

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