Tania and Her Questions

Rosa Martinez

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — A few months ago, the teacher of my eight-year-old daughter asked me during a parents’ meeting how my little Tania had managed to learn so much about so many different subjects.

The truth is that she’s not a know-it-all, but since she likes to read a lot and watch TV programs related to science and technology. She stays informed about topics that other children her age have no idea.

Flowing from that, the teacher expressed her concern. “Rosa,” she said, “Tania came up with a few questions in the classroom that left me with my mouth hanging wide open. I had to do some fast thinking to keep from looking bad.”

“She asked me about everything from the ozone layer, the situation in Syria, and mammals to the history of the Great Wall of China.”

“She’s no pushover. There’s nothing that we discuss in the classroom that she doesn’t have a comment on,” the teacher continued, “and she always comes up with some little question that can bowl over anybody.”

I replied saying: “She’ll come up with some question about geography or history, or something about Cuba, which forces me to go back to the books, because there are many historical facts I don’t remember exactly, but she always wants to know more.

“How do you manage?” the teacher asked me, “Because according to her, you know a little bit about everything too.”

“Well, I don’t know a little about everything. I’m not as educated as I would like to be,” I said.

I used to read a read a lot, but I don’t have any time for that any more. Now, now I only read very specific topics.

But even still, I keep well informed about what’s happening in Cuba and the world, and being informed gives you a leg to stand on.

“I assure you that no matter how well informed you are,” I explained, “there’s always a question that will surprise you.”

“Do you want me to tell you how I manage to keep a step ahead of her?” I asked.

“Yeah, tell me,” she said.

“They say that the best defense is a good offense, right? That’s what I do. I don’t give her time to go on the offensive against me. I attack first by giving her a book that she might like and that will explain some things to her.

“I give her materials about subjects that I know will be of interest to her, and we discuss those between the two of us. I introduce topics about Guantanamo that I’ve studied and about which I can give her details.

“In that way, I entertain her and I don’t give her time to eat me alive with all her questions. That’s how you do it; you should always be coming up with something new,” I said.

That’s how children are. All of them want an explanation, so we’re the ones who need to keep up with them and help them grow.


2 thoughts on “Tania and Her Questions

  • Hola, Ms. Martinez Hello from NYC< NY, in the USA. Logical question to ask: What is so bad for a teacher of eight year old students to not know the answer to a question? It's inevitable that a student is going to ask a question the answer to which the teacher is unable to provide. Also students have a way of pointing out that a so-calloed 'correct' answer has some defect — or that the question is misleading. Another thing I like ab out this piece — or is it a diary entry? — is that the give-and-tke between the writer and the teacher sounds like dialog from a 'Golden Era' Hollywood movie.

  • Rosa:
    Being a step ahead of your child’s curiosity is a challenge you should be ready to take. It will definitely entice her capabilities and will pay off in kind as the years go by. You’ll see.

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