A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress June 4, 2011

I’m so done with our mistakes project.  I’m done talking about it, reading about it, analyzing the data for it, and writing about it.  I’m done.

Unfortunately, we aren’t close to actually finishing said project.  When we started, it was just going to be reading a few social stories and acting them out.  Then we thought we could survey a few people about their attitudes about mistakes.  Which turned into 100 people.  Which turned into poster-sized pie charts and bar graphs.  And memorizing a poem about mistakes.  And writing a report about the survey results.  It’s clear to me as it’s happening, that this project escalation is going to end in meltdowns, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s a cool project. But projects, especially the cool ones, have a way of getting away from me.  They grow and grow.  At some point I think,  “We could do a whole year on just the theme of mistakes!”

That’s the point where the kids stop playing along.  They morph from kids who are giddy with delight while we spend an hour tallying the results (Oh man, do they like to tally.), into kids who are crying because Frustrated, which was Zach’s word to tally, got more responses than Embarrassed, which was Ezra’s word to tally.  They go from ecstasy over getting email accounts so they can send out the surveys into anger that sounds like this, “Why did you make us do these stupid surveys?  This was all your idea.”

They can’t wait to make a bar graph.  But at some point, I force them to sit through a five-minute explanation of why we need to write the number of participants at the top of the graph:  “No one will think that 96 is a big number unless they know that it’s 96 out of 100.”  Of course, it wouldn’t have been five minutes if they could sit still and focus for one minute.  That discussion ended with one of the boys saying, “You’re ruining this graph.”

Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh.  Every time I try to do something that really looks like school, we all end up mad at each other.  The small, fun project is engaging to the boys so I try to take advantage of that and add heaps of other great stuff onto it.  Next thing you know, it’s a huge project, I feel burdened by it, and the boys have their initial excitement crushed.

So, the mistakes project lives on, a work in progress.

Like the rest of us.



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  • quentin

    If you haven't encountered this book http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_28?url=s

    Overcoming dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, you will probably find it really worthwhile. (I'm not sure the link is right.) You can probably get it at the library and see if it's worth buying. My mother got it in her library in MD.

    Love your blog.

    • Quentin

      PS — The above comment, though apparently from me (Quentin) was really written by my mother, Alice, who didn't realize I'd already posted the information in response to your earlier blog "interventions." And, yes, my mother LOVES your blog! — Quentin (for real)

  • Quentin

    "Mistakes Project" — would you say, making the mistakes idea into a Big Project was, maybe…. a mistake?