My third grader reminded me this week how inspired kids get when they get to study, read about or write about a topic they care about. Not the topic that gets assigned or the one you pick for them.
He had an assignment to report on an artist, and because we recently visited the Crazy Horse Memorial with its massive carving on the face of a mountain, I suggested that he write about the artist responsible for its creation. He seemed on-board. Great.
Then he started to do the research. And he crashed. Tears turned to hysterics that wouldn’t cease.
“I just don’t get it!” he screamed multiple times.
Trying not to get swept up in the high drama, and wondering what a relatively smart third grader wasn’t getting (except getting to play football instead of write his report), I asked, “What don’t you understand?”
“I don’t get anything about this report!”
I assumed he was having trouble understanding how you carve a perfect face into a mountain with explosives, so tried showing him a book of artists that he could choose from instead. The tears multiplied with that approach.
And then, “Why would anyone be an artist? I don’t get it, and I can’t write about it if I don’t get it!”
Thank goodness my husband is a quick-on-his-feet, think-outside-the-box kind of guy, who happened to call just as I was about to lose it. “He likes video games. Tell him to write about a video game artist.”
An hour later, grand discoveries had been made about his favorite video games, a great rough draft had been written, and he had emailed an artist/animator who works on one of his favorite games – DragonVale.
When she emailed back asking what his favorite dragon was, he gave me a huge hug. “That was fun. This is going to be the best artist report ever!”
For a guy who thinks he knows everything he needs to know already – football trivia, getting to the next level on video games, and how to shoot an okay lay-up – I will have to keep him on his toes by playing on his passions to keep him hungry for knowledge.
So when he has to write his report on a news broadcaster…. I bet I can get pages and pages and pages about a sportscaster who thinks Matt Ryan is the best quarterback in the game. And it will be good.