“One of the most important things in my life as I grew up were family dinners,” said a friend who seemed to have amazing confidence, as well as the ability to navigate life with great intention, wisdom, and aplomb.
She said that each member of her family knew from very early on, that it was his or she responsibility to arrive at the dinner table prepared to answer two questions. The first was: what is the most important thing that happened to you today? The second was: what is the most important thing that happened in the world today?
You can imagine how the discussion that ensued helped to develop the family’s connectedness, but more importantly, each member’s 0wn agency and mindfulness. Each member had both the responsibility of observing and interacting in the world around him or her and the task of evaluating what he or she saw, and then the privilege of sharing that story with the others at the table.
An eight year old might say the most important thing in her life was catching a ball during the kick ball game at school. And the most important thing in her bigger world was that there was a visiting scientist talked about the properties of magnets in her classroom that day.
But by 11 or 12 he might be saying that the most important thing in his life was baseball tryouts. And the most important thing in his bigger world was that a gorilla had to be shot at the Cleveland Zoo or that Djokovic just won a Grand Slam by betting Murray in the French Open.
Such a conversation every night and being responsible for both your part and hearing what others have to say helps a student, an individual, learn to grow into and be comfortable with communicating and explaining a position or view, analyzing the views of others, and questioning the opinions of others. It might also stimulate curiosity and a search for more knowledge and deeper understanding of topics that come up. All of these skills are needed for a student who engages fully in college learning. And what better place to begin to develop and hone them than in the safe environment of a family dinner?
So let’s eat together more often. And let’s talk about our observations to each other. It will make your student all the more ready for college.