To Clarice – 4

 Those drowning moments remind me of Dylan Thomas. I believe the name of the poem is “Nullus”. The poet talks about moments in life that are as “ugly and black as death itself” but then goes on to say that those are the moments in which “the creative changes take place.
So it can be in our classes. We roll through those moments. (See the blog post before this about Staying in the Moment.) We even allow long stretches of silence to simply be there, explaining to our kids in advance that we are trying to think of something to keep the discussion going.
We ask for their good will and understanding, telling them also that those pauses will help them because during those silences their brain needs to organize what they have already heard so far in the class (Krashen).
I believe that drowning moments happen not because we can’t swim but because we are in new waters and not at all the calm swimming pools we worked in before – those kiddy pools where nobody learned anything about languages – where splashing around in books and English passes for language acquisition.
Krashen and Blaine Ray and Susan Gross basically have challenged us to leave the safety of the pool and go swimming in the ocean of unconscious language acquisition. This is where storms occur and things are much different and so we have to get our swimming skills up to a whole new level.
But it is also the real ocean of acquisition and not fake anymore. Real work with real results. We are talking about an unheard of notion in the last century – actual language acquisition.
Actual language acquisition in the biggest pool of all – the vast unconscious ocean. It’s an entirely new notion, that we acquire languages unconsciously. But we do. We have to become stronger swimmers is all. How do we do that?
By swimming every day.



3 thoughts on “To Clarice – 4”

  1. It makes me think how brave we are. This is hard stuff to learn. Most of us would probably just dump it if we could but we can’t because we know what the alternative is – 50% English (or less) in a boring, visual format. Screw that.

  2. this makes me think of “teaching with love and logic”. what really stuck with me from that book was the idea of getting kids to take ownership of their problems. asking them “how are you going to solve that problem?” instead of having to come up with the perfect solution myself.
    it seems like in these drowning moments, we have to face the fact that we need the kids. that this won’t work without their input. that we can’t just make it work on our own. on one hand, it’s so much scarier than just muscling your way through a class, telling everyone what to do and making everything happen. but, like in “teaching with love and logic”, it’s also incredibly liberating. it’s not all our responsibility. the kids need to take ownership of their part.

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