Jen's MEM Journey

‘Tis the season
by Jennifer Weiss -- December 20th, 2010

With my finals and papers behind me, I am looking forward to the holidays. A time for enjoying friends and family, and a time for learning.

One of the most fascinating aspects of living two lives – being a graduate student and a parent at the same time – is that on any given day, I am being taught new and exciting things at the same time that I am teaching them to my children.   Of course, I am not teaching them how to analyze whether the NOAA hurricane predictions are statistically accurate or how to build a financial model to predict the least cost method of producing electricity.  But, I hope that I am teaching them lessons that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Lucky for me, the holidays are ripe with opportunities for learning.  In the last week, we discussed why it was not economically feasible for Santa to bring everything that was on their lists.  We discussed why it was not environmentally friendly to keep the car running while we were in the store so that it would be warm when we returned.  And, we discussed how the gentleman honking at Mommy in the mall parking lot was not helping me back out of my parking spot any faster.  All very good life lessons I think?

More importantly, we discussed the meaning of the season.  We discussed how important it was to give toys to children who aren’t as fortunate as us.  We made gifts for family members and sent cards to friends.  We baked cookies and shared them with our neighbors.  And each of my girls pledged to be nicer to the other (in case Santa was watching of course).

But, like any good teacher I am always wondering “are my students really learning what I am teaching them?”  Unlike my professors at Duke, I can’t give them a final to see what they’ve learned.  And, I can’t grade them on their responses.   All I can do is wait and see …

So, this past weekend when I heard my 7 year old tell my 5 year old that “Christmas is about giving, not getting,” I stopped what I was doing and smiled.

This teaching thing isn’t so bad after all ….

Happy Holidays!

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