Great Heights

Cartoon of a girl scolding a kitten. She says, "Come down from there! Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Cartoon of a girl scolding a kitten. She says, “Come down from there! Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

Heights and obstacles are a matter of perspective, aren’t they? Whenever a child is convinced an obstacle is just too much for them, I need to remember it really does look as big to them as they imagine it. Part of the challenge is to convince a student they can overcome an obstacle without belittling or minimizing their fear.

How do you get a child to overcome an an obstacle in a respectful, encouraging way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I drew this for Illustration Friday. This week’s word is “heights.”


Angelic Safety

Cartoon of and angel with a bike helmet. He says, "Heaven hasn't been the same since we're required to wear head protection."

Cartoon of and angel with a bike helmet. He says, “Heaven hasn’t been the same since we’re required to wear head protection.”

Teaching Safety

Copyright 2011: Kevin Spear Spot illustration of a man with a gun. He is staring at a fish with a hole through it.

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to take a class on gun safety. This was a golden opportunity for me because it got me out of study hall. You know study hall, don’t you? It is that misnamed class that is held in a room, where no studying goes on except the kind where students study their classmates.
I jumped at the chance to learn how to handle a gun. I thought I would be able to learn how to handle a firearm and impress my father. Then I could get some serious man points.
In class, we went through all the important things about handling a gun. Some of the things we learned where:

  • How to dress in fluorescent orange so some crazy hunter doesn’t mistake you for Bambi.
  • Never put a white handkerchief in your back pocket because white-tail deer do that all the time and you don’t want a crazy hunter to shoot you.
  • Be a safe hunter, not one of those crazy ones that shoot at handkerchiefs and camouflaged guys.

We learned all sorts of common sense rules, such as don’t point a gun at someone unless you really mean it, make sure the gun isn’t loaded around kids and be sure to get your hunter’s license early and often! (Yes, it was sponsored by our state’s department of natural resources!)
There was one thing we NEVER learned in that class. They never let us shoot a gun. Looking back on the class, I can understand why they were leery letting inexperienced teens bring guns to school. Gee, nothing could ever go wrong with that, right?
I felt cheated that I got this suitable-for-framing certificate that said I was a safe gun owner, when I never owned a gun, or even shot one. I had to get my dad to show me how to shoot a gun. It was only after I personally experienced using a firearm, did I learn how powerful they were and what they were capable of doing. After that, I finally KNEW why gun safety was important.
I keep that lesson in mind when I teach or write for kids. For example, this month, I’m talking with my kids about grace. I need to consider how it applies to them. The examples I give must show that it is important to give it and receive it in a way they have experienced and find relevant.
If I give examples that they can relate to, maybe they can see what a valuable tool it is. When I teach, I try to remember when I was ten years-old and had to show grace to someone else. Maybe I didn’t do such a good job at that time. That’s okay. They need to know it isn’t easy and we’re not perfect.
Something like grace is powerful. I want to be sure they know how to use it safely.

Teaching with a Burning Passion

Cartoon of a teacher and students getting soaked. The caption reads, Mark’s portrayal of “Moses and the burning bush” didn’t agree with the sprinkler system.

This week’s word for Illustration Friday is “burning.”