June 18, 2011

Pre-Mid Life Crisis Part I: Circles and Chips

Posted in Character, Islam, Knowledge, Social Commentary, Teaching/Education at 10:18 pm by faith786

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum,

I have no idea what prompted the title other than the end of my spring semester and my summer break so far has all felt like a pre-mid life crisis. I do not know if that is really funny or mildly disturbing. Warning: Super long post.

But anyway, on to the topic of this post: circles ad chips.

Circles–for all you Emerson fans out there, Emerson was a huge fan of circles. He believed nature had this way of popping up circles everywhere and therefore, it was a unique kind of motif or perhaps even symbolic. Circles kept popping up in my life recently, one way it did was when I was tutoring someone math. The student is lovely; she works hard in school, is extremely kind-hearted, but it seemed like even after doing 40 problems with her, she was not capable of doing simple mathematical operations like adding and subtracting fractions, and especially with finding the area or circumference of a circle. I tried to explain how operations and formulas work, but it did not seem to sink in. Part of me started to get really frustrated–why couldn’t the student get it? We worked on it for days.

Another day and two hours of tutoring passes and then I started to think: Am I a really bad tutor? Is it that the student is not practicing enough or am I incompetent in explaining this?

Another session and I finally figured out what was really driving me up the wall: the student just wants to pass her math class; she has no idea why she needs to know this math for the rest of her life. Adding and subtracting fractions, calculating percents are things we need everyday, even if we are not consciously aware that we are using them and I am somehow not bringing that to her attention. I want her to do well in her class, but I also want her to have more mental tools in her toolbox that she can use for the rest of her life.

I realized that a part of me cared about her life, even though I do not really know her and I probably will not ever meet her again after I finish tutoring her this summer. That was something that blew my mind. It never occurred to me that was a part of teaching–it is not just about helping impart knowledge or helping kids get an A in a class. I want to somehow help improve someone’s life through education. I want to share a little more love and a little more happiness with someone else while they are learning because it seems like that is lacking between people. Just a little more love.

And that reminded me of teaching advice I got from a professor once: “It has to come from inside of you. It has to come from your heart.” Otherwise, no amount of preparation, handouts or lecture notes can make someone a great teacher. It just never really hit me how much that matters. To simply care for someone else for no reason other than to spread love. (As 70s-ish as that sounds, I think it is true.)


CHIPS!!!! (Call out to Sarah! That was an awesome dinner, no? XD)

Recently I had to attend a walimah out of town. It was a lovely trip–I spent time with dear friends, I got to see new places, had some crazy adventures, and on the way back, I started to think about the walimah. The walimah had a nice variety of food, but pretty much all the dishes had something my friend was allergic to.  So my friend and I decided to hit the gift shop at the hotel where the walimah was held. We bought some soda and chips and she happily ate them as we laughed at the whole situation.

Although all we did was simply buy some junk food and ate together, I realized it was still something special. It is an old saying that sharing food increases love between people, but I wonder if it really was true here. My high school math teacher would *always* offer food to anyone who would come after school for tutoring and I remember he told me once that there is a kind of blessing in food and even more when you shared it. Every time he said that I had to take a piece of chocolate or almonds from his desk.

But I think the sharing food concept goes a little deeper than that. Maybe it links to the same idea of caring about others and sharing food is another manifestation of that. I guess both lessons from the math tutoring and the food may seem elementary, but I think they are profound when it comes to the implications they can have on our lives.

The reason why the title of the post includes the ‘pre-mid life crisis’ is because I think I have met a lot of people who have very different values than me and because I have seen so many different people, they are making me wonder if I should question my own values or if I even know what they are to begin with. Tutoring that student in math made me realize that caring for others *matters*. Whether or not I’m going to be a teacher, I still want to care for other people for the rest of my life. Sharing food with others may increase love, but it is also done out of love and I think that intention makes all the difference.

So I might not know exactly where all my opinions and stances are, but I do know those two and maybe the more I find out about what I value, maybe I can get out of this mad pre-mid life crisis. =)



  1. Sarah said,

    I LOVE YOU FAITH786!!!!

    • faith786 said,

      Sorry I edited my name out of the comment. Still trying to keep slight anonymity on this blog although there are a lot of people who know about it. =)


  2. Lizzy Bennett said,

    Hahahah, just saw that editing

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