Striving for Kairos: The process of teaching/learning may be a struggle, but the “Aha” moments make it all worth it

Every once in a while, I read something that really hits home and I can’t stop thinking about it for days. This happened to me the other night. I had put the kids to bed and was doing my routine check of Facebook when I came across a link to a blog article that someone had posted. Curious, and with nothing else to do at that moment, I clicked on the link and began reading. It was like a hit in the head.  I couldn’t believe it. This mom blogger was describing how I feel on a daily basis. The article, posted on her blog Momastery, is titled 2011 Lesson #2: Don’t Carpe Diem. It is about how well-meaning older women often tell younger moms to “Enjoy every moment: This time goes by so fast.” The mom blogger went on to express how what these older women forget is how hard the journey of motherhood is and how not every moment is enjoyable. Before I digress, however, let me share with you the two points that were made in her post that inspired me.  The first is the way the author described moments of time. She points out that “there are two different types of time,” known as Chronos and Kairos. “Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time” whereas “Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still.” The second point that hit home with me is that in life, it’s not the journey that is fun, but it’s making it through that you look back on and remember fondly.

I realized the very next day why these two points struck home with me so much. I was feeding my 8-month old son lunch and it dawned on me that on a daily basis, I am constantly shifting back and forth between Chronos time and Kairos time. As I am feeding him spoonfuls of pureed apples and looking at the clock calculating what time we will be done so I can put him down for a nap (Chronos), he begins talking to me in a stream of baby gibberish and giving me his most adorable gummy grin and suddenly I am in Kairos time realizing how lucky I am to have this beautiful baby boy. Then I notice a booger hanging out of his nose and I wipe it away, and now I have a booger on my finger and half of his lunch still to feed him and my oldest daughter downstairs waiting for me to get him down for a nap so I can play with her, and I’m back in Chronos time. Then my son starts laughing for no reason, except to make me smile, and I’m back in Kairos time thinking how amazing my kids are.

As I slip in and out of Chronos and Kairos time, the educator part of my brain kicks in and starts thinking about how these moments of time are not exclusive to parents or day-to-day life, but they also apply to teaching and learning. It doesn’t matter if you’re a classroom teacher or a parent teacher, we are all educators of children either at home or in school. Whether I am teaching struggling readers or teaching my own children at home, I realize how implicitly these moments of Chronos/Kairos apply. For example, while listening to my daughter read word-by-word and helping her apply decoding strategies to words she doesn’t know or having to read her a favorite book over and over before bedtime and counting the minutes until I can turn out the lights and she’ll go to sleep, I am in Chronos time. But when I pause for a moment and realize how amazing it is that my 4-year-old is reading and feeling so proud of her accomplishments and my role in teaching her, I am transported to Kairos time. The same principal applies to any skill being taught. When parents and teachers go through the routines of the day or the steps of a lesson, they are in Chronos time. But when they see a child suddenly get it, what is referred to as an “Aha moment”, or when they take time to reflect on how a lesson went or look at a child’s growth over a period of time and realize how far they’ve come, they are in Kairos time.

Taking the Chronos/Kairos moments in education one step further, I think about how they apply to learners as well (our kids or our students or even ourselves when we learn something new). Learners go through moments of struggling and moments of “Aha” realizations every time they go through the process of learning something new. I see this first hand when I work with struggling readers. They try so hard yet often struggle with each step of the reading process, but when they finally read an entire book on their own, or do well on a test, or go up a reading level, they feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment.

What does all of this reflection of a simple blog post, particularly the points made about moments in time and the journey, teach me? That we need to strive for the Kairos moments. And we need to help our children and students to do the same. It’s not the process, but the ending that is rewarding. In the example of a struggling reader, it’s not always reading the book that is fun, but it’s having read it that counts.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. amandastclair
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 15:38:44

    I read the same article (thanks for sharing it on fb) and absolutely loved it. I also love what you just wrote about it. I was thinking the same thing about my kids. Daily I remind myself to slow down and actually look at these adorable little creatures, instead of constantly counting down the minutes and what comes next for the day.
    And I also loved your comparison with educations. Good point.
    Thanks for sharing, Petra!


  2. Petra
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 12:08:17

    Thanks Amanda!


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