The right amount of strict

7 year-old H. and I were working on an art project together.

"You know what I like about you, Marta? You're strict," she volunteers.

"Wait, I'm confused," I say. "You were just telling me you don't like your new teacher because she's strict. How come?"

"Well, you're the right amount of strict," H. clarifies. "My teacher is too strict and she's not nice. My nanny is not strict enough. You're the right amount of strict. You know, when you say something you do it, but you listen to me, and you're nice."

I wish I got such clear feedback on what to do and not to do from my grad students. Which makes me ask myself, do I listen to my grad students as carefully as I listen to H.?

Making good on your promises is good practice in any occasion - teaching children, training dogs, and life in general. And I believe that the ability to learn and listen are important pieces of what makes a good educator. Not that academic knowledge is in any way unimportant (I live in academia after all!), but most knowledge is only as good as it makes me more attuned and able to listen and learn, giving me more ways and tools to question myself and to create adequate responses and appropriate prompting and scaffolding.

I wonder if this is why so many people seem to be education experts, yet much fewer are true educators. I wonder what H. thinks of that at age 7, and what she will grow up thinking.

Maybe I'll tell you about Bennett next time. He taught me a lot about listening too.