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It’s okay to ask for help

February 11, 2012

Lesson no.#22 It’s okay to ask for help.

I normally only blog about education related things. This blogpost is about education in a round about way. Let me explain.

When I was 14, my grandad asked me to help clean a 2 stroke lawn mower engine. Something was wrong with it also as memory serves. Anyhow, I’d been taking Grade 9 mechanics so knew a bit about what an engine looked like. (Truth-I actually had no idea).  I was pretty stoked that my grandad trusted me to take apart and clean the family  lawn mower that day and I was just excited to work in his garage. So off I went. Taking something apart I discovered is REALLY easy. Putting it back, well…… So there I was, I had it apart- I think we replaced some thingamajiggy and now it was time to reassemble it to its proper working order. So there I went with Gramps not too far off, he was tinkering with his usual machines and gadgets. I began bolt by bolt, piece by piece putting things back, but there was a problem. At the end I had an extra piece left. Now I admit I knew that I did have this extra little piece but who would miss it right? I mean its small, and ah whatever. No one would ever know. Of course when it was time to start the thing, there was something a miss. I fessed up that I had cut corners- I mean I know I had missed something but did not want to ask. I dont know why I did not ask. Maybe I didn’t want to have him think less of me? To think I was stupid? (not that he would have he was a lovely man).

So there lies the lesson in education. We want our students to take risks but also to ask questions, ask for guidance when required. So when we get older -why does asking for help become so difficult? Is it that we feel as we get older we should know it all? Have our egos gotten the better of us? Is it that of we ask for help, we are somehow exposing gaps in our own knowledge or expertise?

So getting back to my grandpa story, I’m pretty sure he had been keeping a keen eye on me all the time and saw I was in some sort of distress trying to put that thing back together. He let me make mistakes and we fixed it together no problem. I think the big lesson that day was not to know how a 2 stroke engine worked and how to assemble it but to take risks and ask questions when unsure. (He did ask me why I just didn’t ask him about the erroneous part. I shrugged). This actually only dawned on me 20 years later. I mean he could have jumped in and said ‘wait you are doing it all wrong’, but he didnt. I could have asked him the question. I didn’t.

So the point of this story?

No matter how young or old, asking questions, collaborating, knowledge sharing and seeking affirmation are not all that bad. They help. They make us better learners. No learner is alone. We are connected.

It’s okay to ask for help if you let yourself do so……EXCEPT if you are in the situation below.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 12, 2012 7:10 pm

    Great story Jay! I recognize myself in it (as you in the things I do for myself and as your grandpa in my teaching).
    Some people just don’t like to ask for help and always want to try first by themselves. Others immediately ask for help, mostly because they lack self-confidence, and sometimes because they are too lazy to try. An experienced teacher would know his/her students and be able to guide the students.
    I often model activities and on purpose let things go wrong during the modelling. I might ask the class what kind of question they can ask when it happens and who (teacher, peer) they could approach with this question. Or I might say: “If this happens you can ask X: ‘Can you show me how to do this?’ ” A great way to teach asking questions, and to create a classroom where asking questions becomes more natural.
    Thanks for sharing!

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