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My Toddler Is Failing Driver’s Education

Yes, this is over-the-top satire:

Armed with the DVD’s, flash cards and workbooks from Your Baby Can Drive, I begin the daily lessons.  Brenna fails at first, placing the laminated cards in her mouth and saying “vroom, vroom” with the model cars.  I scold her for not listening and tell her that her next “step” will be an hour of detention.

Christy thinks this is a bad idea.  She says that Brenna isn’t developmentally ready to learn how to drive. I think she’s making excuses.  Low standards.  Do tiger moms allow excuses?  Does Harvard take notes about being developmentally appropriate?  Not so much.  I want a child who will be competitive in a global economy.  I read recently that in parts of southeast Asia, children not only drive cars, but work in the industrial sector. Some of them are even getting married in their early teens.  How can we possibly win a race to the top when their children have such a head start?

I’m concerned about Brenna.  According to the curriculum map, she should have a firm grasp of red, yellow and green.  However, when we gave her the keys to the car, she ran through three red lights, stopped on a green and played with the turn signal stick.  How will she ever learn if she spends her time laughing and playing with the dashboard gadgets?

Maybe she needs Ritalin.

Feeling a little dejected, I park the dented up Scion and sit down with the flashcards.  Apparently she still thinks they’re edible.  So, I move back to direct instruction.  Halfway through the lecture on limited liability insurance, she interrupts me with, “I poop.”  I tell her, kindly, that bowel movements are no excuse for abandoning her education.  She then says, “Daddy love you,” and I remind her that no amount of flattery will change my mind.

Maybe she needs more accountability.

Christy tells me again that I need to let Brenna mature.  She says that the point of education isn’t simply preparing children for the future, but also meeting them in the now.  My wife is clueless.  She doesn’t even have a degree in education.  So, I bust out the projector and share the PowerPoint slides with the graphs comparing Brenna’s driver’s ed progress to the national norm.  I remind Christy that we will do “whatever it takes” (including, perhaps, mild shock therapy) and that we will not allow our child to be left behind (I place heavy emphasis on this Apocalyptic language).

But, alas, my wife takes our daughter to the living room and lets her play with blocks.  I try to rationalize this by thinking that perhaps it’s some sort of experimental STEM program, but Christy refuses to let me create a rubric for her design projects.

Bottom line: Don’t blame me if my daughter grows up to be a failure.


About John Spencer

I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.


5 thoughts on “My Toddler Is Failing Driver’s Education

  1. Oh, I’m so sad for you John. How frustrating that your daughter isn’t taking her education more seriously?

    My 4 year old son just recently graduated from driver’s education. It was hard work, and I think we must have shown him thousands of flash cards, but finally at the age of 4, he is ready for the world since all he needs to be able to do is drive a car.

    Posted by David Wees | May 20, 2011, 1:37 pm
    • What was the trick? Because, you know, teaching is all about tricks. (A term I absolutely hate. Why do we use a word reserved for animals, magicians and prostitutes?)

      Posted by johntspencer | May 20, 2011, 1:42 pm
      • I think you have not rewarded her enough or praised her for her ability to say vroom vroom… we must praise the behavior we want…. try gift cards or 1 hr of Elmo if she will just focus… I think your testing also might be too hands-on…get back to the basics….worksheets and worksheet and when in don’t more worksheets.

        There is hope but you might want to hire an education expert from the Gates Foundation to come in and tell you what you are doing wrong! And remember…if you can’t succeed… are bad teacher and a bad human! and dad probably too.

        either way it is the union’s fault…..

        Posted by dloitz | May 20, 2011, 3:08 pm
  2. It is clear that you will be waiting for Superman for a very long time indeed.

    Posted by tellio | May 21, 2011, 7:32 am
  3. I love this, John. The scary thing is that this is actually an extremely serious post. I’ve made the analogy to driving instruction many times – by not requiring something until it’s actually necessary and appropriate, you get a 100% success rate. By requiring things when children aren’t developmentally ready for them, we create devastating failure and lasting learning disabilities. It’s no joke. Connect it to the study of Finnish schools, where they begin teaching reading later and have much higher literacy rates than we do.

    Nailed it.

    Posted by Carol Black | May 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

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