A Blow To His Confidence 2

This email is from the same student who posted here a few days ago about her teacher deciding that it is now time for the class to speak. Before reading this new entry, the reader may want to read the January 12 blog entry entitled “A Blow To His Confidence”  – https://benslavic.com/blog/?p=5726).
Here is the text of the new email, with comments by me:
“…it seems pretty ridiculous that we are now speaking in class when you look at the numbers [ed. note: this refers to Mike Walker’s comment on that blog about the amount of hours we actually have in class to learn how to speak a language over a four year period.] I saw that kid in English today and he is still  not very confident. He said, “This is another class that I will suck at and you’ll do way better than me as always. I couldn’t stand that at all.”
“His phrasing-“beat me” as if he was talking about grade competition, which you know my view on, was really bugging me. So, I found something that he was good at and I wasn’t – hopping on one leg, and bet him that he was better at that than I was. His response was “…but you have that problem with your legs, so it would be unfair for me to go against you. It’s not your fault that you can’t stand on one leg, your body just wasn’t meant to do it.”
“Was he right?  Yes, he was – cerebral palsy makes it difficult to hop on one leg, but it is also unfair to force him to do something his brain isn’t ready to do. [ed. note: this child sees that the boy’s predicament in French class is unfair, and that his stressing over the class, his feeling that he is not any good at it, is unnecessary. I would ask if the teacher is even aware of how this boy feels about how much he sucks at French. Empathy – is there more of it in classrooms designed around TPRS? I think there is. I know there is.]
“It’s also not fair that kids with one year of French are in the same class with those who have had no French [ed. note: even though this child writing this email was one of the top level 1 kids in Colorado as an 8th grade middle school student last year, a true gifted/talented kid, she was denied entry into level two French at this high school’s IB program. No comment.]
“…I tell my friend [Mike’s] statistics, his mouth goes wide open, and I say it’s not fair to you or me, and yet you manage, so I’ll race you on one leg. He of course is way better at this than I am and so his confidence is built back up, and during our race I tell him about French last year. I of course fall flat on  my face a few times, and, every time, someone always comes to help me up. Their help bugs me. It is nice, but what bugs me is that in French no one helped this kid up by saying he didn’t suck.
“No, quite the opposite – they agreed that he did suck. I think that a lack of confidence is worse than any physical injury, but that’s just me. That was a really long story…. Point: Thanks for the stats, helped the student feel better, wowed both he and I.”
[ed. note: The depth and breath of the comparison between being limited by cerebral palsy and by the fact that we need a lot more time to outupt a language than some teachers think, and that messing with output too early can cause children to think they suck, is very powerful. This is visionary thinking, and my former student’s challenge of a one legged race so compelling. This email brings tears to my eyes, such is the courage and brilliance of this young lady, who is as fearless as she is brilliant. Her point that what some teachers may think of as normal instruction may, if this boy’s point of view counts for anything, actually be shaming, is  a good one. I recommend a crash course in what Krashen actually says, instead of what many teachers merely think he says – I certainly would take such a class. Tossing Krashen’s work off without really studying it is, in my opinion, a very stupid thing to do.]



2 thoughts on “A Blow To His Confidence 2”

  1. Wow! Ben, what a mature, compassionate and thoughtful young woman! I am so impressed by her insights. What a great affirmation for you that she knows how much you cared and what a good teacher you were to her.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I agree with Ruth. At the same time, how sad that a high school student has greater insight and empathy than a teacher probably at least twice or thrice her age.

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