Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Slice of Life: The methodology of parking--and other things...

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

So my youngest daughter is learning to drive. Actually, she is scheduled to get her license. Soon. Over the weekend, I took her to a parking lot so she could practice her parking.

"I have to line up my shoulders to the center of the spot," she informed me. "Then I turn the wheel all the way."

Each parking job was an accomplishment. Seriously.

How about just learning what the car does when you maneuver it, I wanted to say. I didn't though. 

Instead, I went home and watched the videos from The Next Street driving school that offered new drivers precise instructions on lining up shoulders, watching lines in side mirrors, and assuming backward posture. 

I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep, as I was thinking about a million different things including what I'd write for today's post. In the clutter of thoughts, I remembered a conversation I had on a hallway floor with Kate Roberts at the annual NCTE conference a couple, maybe even a few, years ago. Katherine Bomer's book, A Journey of Thought, had just come out, and I was really struggling with the concepts of the five paragraph essay. 

"We need a structure when we're learning new things," I remember Kate saying. "Then we can experiment and make it our own."

My older daughte reminded me that she needed the parking methodology when she first started driving. "I don't need it anymore," Clare said. "Now I just park."

So much of learning requires a structure. We just have to make sure we get learners to that place where, like Clare and parking,  they don't need it and just do it. 

Happy Slicing, 


  1. So true! I took a class for my graduate program that required us to learn something new. It was really powerful to remember what it is like to learn something for the first time. My youngest just got his license -- the parking is the hardest. I can't believe they fail if they touch the curb - that is how I park! Hope all is well.

  2. Just like learning to write and then writing to learn. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I am grateful my sons learned to drive in the US while I was not there- I feel like it might have really strained our relationships. Your slice was a great reminder about the use of scaffolds to move us toward independence and how we stop using them as we gain confidence.

  4. Yes! So true and yet so hard to let go sometimes as well! Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I posted about driving today, too. I totally get what you are saying because I just bought a new car after driving the same one for 12 years. I sort of feel like your daughter. I know the theory, but it is a whole new ballgame in the new car.

  6. This is a great post and an important way we can connect teaching with driving.

    I still haven't found a successful way to parallel park. Maybe I'll have to try the shoulder thing. (More often than not, I will pay for a parking garage instead of trying to squeeze into a too-tight spot.)

  7. I struggle with the question of structure for my students. I like to give them choice, even around structure, but sometimes that confuses them even more. I like this analogy.

  8. You leave me with much to consider as we teach a new skill to our very youngest of writers and readers. Structure or not? Maybe it is kid dependent? I'm still dwelling on this!