of a well crafted mocha. But since espresso and education are not really related (except that, in my house, the former makes the latter much more pleasant for all of us), I’ll get back to the point. Today I want to touch on a practice that is paramount in both schooling and parenting: words of affirmation. A simple illustration will convey my point quickly and concisely.
My oldest daughter has been taking violin lessons for over two years. Mrs. Evelyn is her wonderfully skilled and patient teacher. Every week I sit and listen as she plays and Eve instructs. Here’s what I mentally noted one day, and it brought such conviction to my heart. No matter how poorly my daughter plays a particular piece, Evelyn always starts by pointing out something – anything – she did well. She may miss every note, yet Eve says, “I really like the way you kept a steady tempo.” Or, if my daughter struggles to keep an even beat, Eve will say, “I really like the way you watched your fingerings.” I am convinced my girl could play every single element wrong and she’d still hear words of affirmation.
You know where I’m going with this. How often do we quickly point out the flaws, mistakes, and messes our children make? Ouch! Yes, the truth hurts, but not nearly as much as a critical spirit. I realize there are times - many times - when we must correct and nstruct our children, both morally and academically. It would be both a disservice and a hindrance to my daughter for Evelyn to simply smile and only dole out compliments, never pointing out errors and offering correction. But do we make an equal effort to offer words of encouragement and affirmation? This practice needs to permeate every relationship of our lives as teachers, moms, wives and friends.