Selective Memory

As any psychologist would tell you, memory is not only selective, but its incredibly subjective. In fact, its only subjective (subject to our own interpretations of our own experiences), though we all like to believe we have perfectly objective memories.

Recently I took my 8-year-old ice skating for the first time. She was invited by a friend who knew how to skate, and my daughter wanted me to start out with her until she felt confident enough to skate on her own. For the first 15 minutes or so, I held her hand. Then I skated right beside her, close enough so she could grab me if she was falling, for another 15-20 minutes. Then I skated a little behind her and her friend for another 30 minutes, and eventually she said, Okay Dad, you can sit down now. My daughter and her friend skated the last 20 minutes on their own.

When we got home and she retold the night to her mother, the story went something like Dad held my hand one time around, then skated beside me the next time around, and then Emily and I skated together the rest of the time. Classic. To her credit, she really did learn fast. But her memory quickly reframed the evening, minimizing the time spent dependent on Dad and maximizing her time skating on her ownthe best part.

We all practice selective memory. So when it comes to how we invest in students, we have to keep in mind that much of what we overtly teach flies by them, while the experiences we give them (and the ways we model faith among them) are much more likely to stick. And yes, what will stick is their own version of those experiences. But thats OK. Its actually freeing when we realize that we dont control any of ittheres more room for the Holy Spirit to work that way.

What are you doing to make memories with students this fall?

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