When my son was in college, he called me to tell me that he was dropping out of his math class because he did not understand it anymore and was going to fail. He said he would rather have an incomplete than a fail. I said, “How about neither?” and told him I would be there soon. I drove the hour to his dorm room, and by now he was really mad at me for not just accepting his decision.
I said he wasn’t dropping the class or failing the class. He asked me (sarcastically) how I was going to do that? I told him I was not sure yet, but asked him to get the book with the material he did not understand. He got the book and I asked him to open it to the assignment that had him confused. With great exasperation, he did. I told him to read it to me.
He said, “Why, do you understand it?” I said no, but I didn’t need to because it wasn’t my class, but that I knew he was smart enough to understand it. He read it with more exasperation and I took the book and threw it across the room saying, “I can’t believe how stupid you are!” to the book. He was surprised and laughed a bit. I got the book and asked him to read it again. He did and I suggested he throw the book. We kept getting the “stupid” book and throwing it and laughing and each time he read the part he did not understand. He said that I was pretty ridiculous to think this was a good idea. In fact, I was pretty sure this would not work and that it was rather foolish, but I was not willing to give up yet.
Finally, he read the passage again and said, “Oh, I think I see what this means.” He said it in a very calm and quiet voice and I was not sure I heard it right. I just stayed quiet and he picked up his notebook and began to work out the problems. He hardly noticed when I said I had to leave because he was so engrossed in the subject. He did pass the course.
– Certified Instructor Emmy Rainwalker
Join in Emmy’s class, Building Emotional Understanding Online starting March 18.