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8 thoughts on “Blurting”

  1. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I could be super naive (it wouldn’t be the first time) or an enabler, or my young population is different – but it seems to me that sometimes blurters are blurting directly out of their unconscious minds. It’s like they totally get exactly what we’re saying, they are with us on that train as it pick’s up steam down the CI tracks, and they don’t know they’ve blurted ’til the deed is done. They get caught up in the flow of creative ideas, come up with something they think is awesome, or excited to demonstrate their comprehension.
    In that case I need to get better at employing Carol G’s non-verbal response strategies more often (you cue them to use gestures instead of their voices). I’m bad at having kids try to count to 3 before answering or shooting their hands up – too much other stuff going on.
    That balance of creative and lively yet well-managed and courteous is a hard one.

    1. Teachers get after my ELLs all the time for blurting in L1 (especially Spanish speakers) and mainstream teachers often ask –is it “on purpose”? My answer: lots of research suggests it is not. This article explains it well:
      “It is not known to what extent the speakers were conscious of oscillating between languages, but it is clear from the circumstances in which the examples were uttered that language mixing was not a fully voluntary decision. ”
      We don’t know how much control students have over using L1, but it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Especially considering the only reason they are blurting is because they think they know an answer/want to engage in a lesson that they are actively listening to in L2… that’s already a burdensome cognitive task.
      Go with your gut– you’re not just “naive”… you’re clearly conscientious and likely very caring, but not naive.

  2. Alisa I would venture to guess that blurting is different with those much younger kids. I am talking above about a kind of mean streak in a kid who likes to throw out stuff in L1 with the sole purpose of drawing attention to himself for whatever reason. Usually, when the L2 is flowing and a lot of cool stuff is happening, some kids feel uncomfortable. It’s usually because they don’t understand – hence our great need to include those kids by checking in on them all the time, to make sure that they in particular understand. So I am suggesting that perhaps high school and to a lesser extent middle school kids do an entirely different kind of blurting that what you describe with your young kids, which is so innocent. They get meaner as they get older, and one mean kid can destroy a class. God bless America and God bless American schools.

  3. But only a few if any kids in any given year are mean. For the most part, kids are trained since middle school or earlier to think of their schooling as boring.
    Comprehensible input is the antidote. I often think of the SK quote from Nathaniel here a few weeks ago about how kids don’t need to be motivated – they just want to know what happens. That phrase there is worth repeating. They just want to know what happens.
    So interesting/compelling are the response to the culture in most schools.

  4. Padgett Arrington sat next to me for eleven years in the tenor section of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Columbia, SC. Padgett was a true South Carolinian. I have never met a more refined sense of humor in any group of people than in those genteel and spectacular (they are spectacular) people. Padgett cracked jokes during Wednesday night choir practice and I was helpless to keep my body upright during our rehearsals, from all the laughter. I had no awareness of what that did to our choirmaster, who never confronted us. It must have driven her crazy. If you are reading this now, Anne, I offer my heartfelt overdue apologies. I was unconscious at the time. Why didn’t you ever say anything?
    The analogy is clear. We must confront in a loving way those who mess up our own work.

    1. I love the idea of having discussions after school or in the hallway between classes to “confront in a loving way” If done correctly, it can mean the difference between the kid-teacher power struggle and a child learning to control his or herself –because teachers care and they should too.
      PS: At first I thought you were saying South Carolinians in general (like the whole state) are the most genteel, spectacular people –and I was going to agree with you. I’m a Carolina girl. But I guess you’re referring to your church.

  5. Sophie is a sixth grader in my foundational class here at the Embassy School. Last year she attended the British School, which is across the street. We were talking about how we learn languages this morning, and Sophie said, “They gave us a sheet and we had to memorize it. They taught us only how to say things like ‘fruit salad'”. Anoushka added, “When I was at the British School, we weren’t allowed to be unique in our own way of learning, we were just being programmed.”
    Those are exact quotes because I just wrote them during class. Gotta go return to the story.

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