Praising Practice

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My dad has often reminded me that an essay is literally a "try" or attempt. Paul Graham's essay on Essays makes much the same point. Writing, then, should often be viewed more as an attempt at getting better, rather than the culmination of all literary masterpieces.

This was the general view we had when on the swim team as well: Were your times improving? That's all that really matters. The blue ribbons are fun... for a while. But the real measure is how your efforts are paying off in improvement.

I think this idea should be applied to most development and learning. We're not trying to "arrive" at some destination--especially since there isn't much of a destination at which to arrive; the goal of getting a diploma or a doctorate never really grabbed me. There's always more to learn.

Must be my embrace of life-long learning...

Earlier this week, I read Daphne Gray's advice that we find people who will praise and applaud us--even if we don't necessarily deserve it. I was immediately reminded of the classroom when she said described the toxic environment of groups built around criticism. The marks on tests and papers were never about praise. They were about seeing how well (or poorly) you measured up.

Homeschooling allows us to take the opposite approach: We can praise and applaud. These exercises and assignments are not the finished product. These moments are practice. And as long as we are steadily--however slowly--improving, that's all that really matters.

If you haven't yet, I recommend you read Daphne's Writing Lesson from Toastmasters. And then praise your children for the work they've accomplished.

And if you're not very good at applauding, you could at lease give it a try <smile>.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Word of the Day
Bucketsful: how much a bucket would hold; a large amount

Brought to you by Daphne Gray-Grant

P.S. I've never been into diagramming sentences, but this little website will diagram a sentence for you. Kinda cool.
Hat Tip
Henry Cate

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4 Comments

  1. I pasted Romans 7:19 into the diagrammer and it said, "Cannot find an utterance."

  2. Warren Baldwin

    Thanks Luke. I'll check out Daphne's post.

  3. I got the same error with one of the sentences I tried as well, Chris. Bummer.

    You're welcome, Warren! Thanks for reading <smile>.

    ~Luke

  4. John Holzmann

    Worked for me when I lopped off a little bit of extra verbiage. But what I gave it was exceptionally long and convoluted. Still, it seemed to do the job. From Boorstin's Landmark History of the American People, Vol. II, chapter 20: "The money to run the federal government had been raised by selling lands from the Public Domain in the West."