I've recently realized — or maybe re-realized — how useful it can be to put love before mastery.
You'll remember that the three über-values of our schools are love, mastery, and meaning. The order of those three is important: love (i.e. interest, passion, desire) comes before mastery, and supports it.
Want your child to become really, really good at something? Help them fall in love with it first. At least a little.
Kristin and I had forgotten this, I think, a little while ago, when we signed our five-year-old up for a swimming lesson. It didn't take: he was terrified to put his face in the water, and didn't trust the instructor.
Now, a half-year later, our son is clamoring for lessons. The difference? He's spent more fun time in the water. He's come to love the water, and wants to learn how to do more in it.
Goodness: now, in baths, he borrows my goggles, and sticks his head in the water.
Love comes before mastery.
Now, it's more complicated than that: mastery builds love, too. As educational psychologist Jerome Bruner wrote:
We become interested in what we become good at.
So we shouldn't become simpletons with this! But a helpful, general rule seems obvious:
When we want kids to become great at something, we need to first help them fall in love with it.