Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coursework F -- Character A+

Younger Son asked if he could make gumdrops tonight.
All he needed, he explained, was a box of Jello and a cup of water.
And an eyedropper.
And a bowl.
And some waxed paper.
And a fork.

Well, alrighty.

He gathered his equipment and settled in on the end of the kitchen table away from where Elder Son was pretending to study his schoolwork. It wasn't long before both boys were huddled over one end of the table. And it was the end with the Jello and lack of paperwork, naturally.

While they deliberated, Elder Son begged to dribble some water into the Jello mix.
"Just one. A couple. I wanna see what happens when you squeeze a bunch in at once!"

I collared him and dragged him back to his homework.

Meanwhile, Younger Son mentioned how there was a trick to making the gumdrops.
"You gotta do it just right or it's ruined. I did it wrong today in class, and I got an F."

Two jaws dropped as he diligently dropped beads of water into his dish of powder.

"You got an F?" asked Elder.
"Wow! An F!"

I finally smacked Elder Son.
"What?" he protested. "I didn't get the F!"

Later, I sat quietly at the Jello end of the table as my boy explained.
(I should mention that as he talked, he continued to meticulously drip water into the powder, scoop the blobs out with a fork, and line them up on a sheet of waxed paper.)
In science class, the students were given supplies and a sheet of instructions. When Younger Son and his partner misunderstood one step and poured the mix into the water instead of the other way around, they asked the teacher what they should do to fix it.
She told them that since they couldn't finish the project, they'd both failed the assignment.

"Are you sure it was a graded assignment?" I asked.
"Yeah. She said she had to give us an F."

I thought about that for a moment as the boy remained bent over his creation.
Dribble. Scoop. Place.
Dribble. Scoop. Place.

"You know I'm proud that you wanted to prove to yourself that you could do this assignment. Most kids wouldn't come home and do this."
He nodded.
Dribble. Scoop. Place.
"Grades are important, honey, but good character is even more important. So, no matter what your teacher puts down on the paper, I think you earned an A+ for character."

Now, where's my grade book?


Richmond said...

And good for you letting him do the project - I shudder to think about giving my almost 10yo a box of jello and an eyedropper. Yikes.

Roses said...

Richmond: He even rinsed everything out when he was done!

Pinch me!

tammi said...

Wow. Don't you just love those "moments of light"?

What a great story!

Tink said...

Goosebumps here. What a delightful story and wonderful son.

Mrs. Who said...

Give him a gold star and a Student of the Year award!

Lukie said...

That is a cool project. My son is eleven and I will have to try this experiment this weekend.

Bou said...

I'm sorry, but I think I'd have to email his teacher and tell her. I'm impressed.