I heard somewhere that the biggest temptation of the artist is to try to reproduce her work. That is probably because inspiration can’t be cloned as per some formula.
I try to keep that idea in mind when working with comprehensible input. I accept that every class will be different, and that there will be very few really good classes. I don’t try to repeat a previous class’ success in the next. The universe won’t let me do that. CI is not a stamped kind of product that one can duplicate.
CI doesn’t work because of what we do but because of why we do it. We try to make ourselves comprehensible because our kids can’t learn the language unless we do that. Just because something worked in one class doesn’t mean it will work in the next class. In fact, it probably won’t, because those are different kids.
Empowerment in class comes from the process of interaction with the kids, the open heart back and forth with them, the desire to share real discussion with them, not the desire to impart information to them. Oscar Wilde said that anything worth learning can’t be taught.
Maybe we should wear dream necklaces in our classes to remind us of that. Dream necklaces would allow us to stay in touch with that invisible/creative side of ourselves, that part that of CI that “just happens”, the part that makes us know that something different can happen at any moment, for no apparent reason, in a storytelling class.
What is it in our being open to what children think that brings such wonder? Why would we ever want to shut them up in class and teach them about adverbs, when they are sitting there in silence waiting to impart wonder into our stories?
It’s like Victor Hugo said about his poetry being better when informed with his daughter’s scribblings:
Parmi mes manuscrits je rencontrais souvent
Quelque arabesque folle et qu’elle avait tracée,
Et mainte page blanche entre ses mains froissée
Où, je ne sais comment, venaient mes plus doux vers.
I’d often discover among my manuscripts
Some crazy arabesque that she had sketched
And several pages crumpled by her hands
From which came, I don’t know how, the sweetest lines of my poetry.
[Elle avait pris ce plis…Nov. 1846]
Maybe we can just give up the self-importance and teacher posturing that we do – the kids see right through that, anyway, as they wait, wait, for something real to happen in class.