Generally not recommended.
But let’s face it, we all succumb to the temptation to yell from time to time and sometimes every day. And sometimes…well, anyway. This isn’t supposed to be my confession.
It isn’t pretty. We know it doesn’t produce the desired effect, which is not children cowering in the corner…but immediately prior to yelling (which is, by the way, a choice) it seems very, very satisfying. And sometimes it is. For about ten seconds.
Yesterday, to my everlasting shame, I bared my soul (gotta stop doing that…who will want to buy my book?) to the participants of the Vancouver workshop the story of my wise and holy boy who taught me something about yelling.
My son Noah glazes over as soon as anything that looks like math is presented to him. Literally. He goes into zombie mode. He’s a really good and holy boy, helpful, kind…a natural gentleman. But not a math guy. Nonetheless, there is some math he’s gonna need to know.
Last year I was feeling frustrated with him glazing over. I just thought he’s not even trying…he dislikes math and therefore won’t even make the effort.
A month or so into the school year, I was starting to boil over at his apparent stubbornness. I started to become impatient and snippy. One morning I lost my temper with him and yelled at him about math.
Of course he immediately smiled at me and began to cooperate and even enjoy math.
To borrow a quote from my sixteen year old, “This is not Awesome.” Which by the way he uses in circumstances where things don’t go the way he anticipated. Every day. Which always involve me saying no.
THIS IS NOT AWESOME.
He cried. I stormed. No Education Happened That Day.
Fast forward to the next morning. I am repentant, I’m feeling terrible about sucking any possible joy out of education. I’m experiencing the daily guilt that comes a la mode with motherhood.
And Noah says to me, in the sweetest possible way:
Mom, I have a suggestion. I don’t want you to be offended or anything, it’s just a little idea I had. Y’know math is hard for me. I have to think really hard and I don’t like math. But, do you think we could do math without you yelling at me? I know it is hard not to get frustrated with me, but when you yell at me, I can’t even THINK at all. I’m sorry mom, I’ll try harder.
Such a sweet boy. I hugged him and apologized and told him that I didn’t actually think yelling was an effective teaching tool. I just gave in to impatience.
I wasn’t trying to implement a new educational philosophy based on yelling.