reasons not to quiz

1. It is disingenuous. It is defended as "just having fun" when the real reason for it is to ferret out where the child is "lacking".

2. It is not only disrespectful to the parents (as it implies that they are not doing their job) but even worse,

3. it makes the child anxious and makes them second-guess themselves and their abilities, leading to insecurity: Can I measure up in this person's estimation? And, if the child doesn't know the answer, I don't know what I'm supposed to know and ultimately, I guess I'm not very smart.

4. It is always taken for granted that the quizzer is a rightful authority to which the child has the duty to respond. (I have seen adults insist-- even to the point of getting agitated about it -- that the child comply.)

5. The adult doing the quizzing takes a perverse pleasure in showing up the child's ignorance, feeling big because they know something the child doesn't, and improving the child by teaching them something. Ah, how satisfying to be the savior!

6. It is akin to drilling in which the end result matters more than the process, which is antithetical to the brain learning to function creatively and critically.

Related is my annoyance with adults always having to show children how to do something the "right" way. The children can't possibly be allowed to enjoy exploring the thing themselves, and they can't possibly really learn that way, so they must be directed and guided right from the beginning. This is, of course, the whole idea behind schooling, that you will only benefit from me having my hand in your learning process and will be lost if I don't.

When J was little he was a whiz at doing puzzles. He was fast and confident and enjoyed it immensely. It was a beautiful thing to see him feeling it out, and knowing that as he approached it fresh, from scratch, his brain was developing a deep understanding of the connections between things.

Then someone came in and said, "Wait, look here, here's a better way to do it. You look for like kinds of pieces first and put them all in separate piles. Find the corners first, then fill in the edges..." and proceeded to watch over and correct him if he diverged from taking those exact steps. In an attempt to please and do it "right", he had to essentially divorce himself from his intuitive process and focus on the rules. He slowed down. He lost confidence. It wasn't fun any more. And then he gave up, discouraged and disgusted.

I can't tell you how sick I felt about allowing this to happen, and have tried since then to be on guard to minimize opportunities for it to happen again. And it's a good part of the reason I don't want to send my kids away to be taught by others where this sort of thing would happen every day, all day long.


J: What's his name?

N: Hallah.

J: Well, go ahead and live in Powerworld. First I have to round up a hundred people. I'm going to stay here until I've finished...

J: You have to enter the correct passcode to get in the travel ship.

J: Name?

N: I entered the code.

J: (talking to handset) Everyone in the city, whoever wants to go to Powerworld...

N: I already entered the password!

J: If you want to enter Powerworld forever, go outside and stand still for five minutes. It will take five minutes to download the process. (N runs outside.)

J: There the rest of the world... mumble mumble... (Loud) Everyone! it will take a new twenty minutes! I will send...

(they run outside.)

(faint snippets heard from a distance:) Help me! Help me!.... the earthquake! brother! they are trying to get you! watch out, they're coming to get your blood! yeacchh! oh yeah? oh yeah? URRRGH! around me! hold it! right... I said hold it! ohhhh... ching! ... every single move... brothers, they're trying to... stop! power... AHHHHHHH! chhkkk shhhu stop! ahhhhhh! ... we didn't even come back again! they're in here! guys! this is where the... I didn't tell you! HAGH! ... you'll live... I'll find another shield... dig everywhere... to find the magic... here's one! ... YAY! schhhhh ...

(they come back in)

J: Yeah, they're kids, just the same age as you. They're still your mom and dad. That's the weird thing.

N: Hm. Let's go.

J: Oh, one more thing. If you want you can travel for fifty miles all the way to another one, because I need cyber shield blades and...

N:... science battle. And what about staffs?

J: Staffs! YES!

N: What about Wonderland?

J: That is way too powerful. We need a hundred things... I can do it. Hey you know, the best place to be in Powerworld would be the national staff room, it's only a hundred miles away from here if you head south.

N: I have a traveler.

J: Nope, it won't work. It only works if you want to get out of our dimension.

(they run off again)

the change that comes with motherhood

I went from filling my time with constant doing, a consumption— of time, activities, ideas— to being able to be with the vast silence of the interior stillness.
-- Brenda Clews, Mother of Milk

There is much here that speaks for me and to me.