I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience during CI:
You build an image with the kids, for whatever reason (story, PQA. or just to build a little one word image for fun), and pretty soon this kind of weird ownership or the image emerges from the kids.
Like, you can’t change any details without their permission. You’ve established that the miniature girl has red hair, and if you slip on repeating a details (often on purpose) and casually say that her hair is blue, there is a rebellion. They won’t let you change it. The mini girl there has become THEIR girl, and you can’t change it.
This kind of ownership requires your total respect. I very often honestly don’t care about such details – I do this kind of CI five times a day, so the images that occur throughout the day don’t really resonate with me on a personal ownership level. But with them they really do.
And this phenomenon is often true with most of them, really – it’s weird how many of them will fight for and relate to the image, like a kind of group think thing, where they don’t want you to mess with their movie.
I think it would be really good if we could somehow really appreciate how important the image that those kids create is to them. Maybe if we could get to a deeper level of our own appreciation for the image, we could then get more into the reality of what they are experiencing, and therefore get a deeper kind of CI taught, because of the authenticity of what we would all then be experiencing together.
This goes back to what Susan Gross has always stressed about the process of the creation of CI – we need to BELIEVE what we are creating with them. It is very important to them and we need to honor that. Then, when we bring the image of the very very small girl with the very big ears and the yellow glasses and her funny little dog who looks likes her, but not completely, back for another bow or cameo in a new setting later on, it brings more buy in, more interest, more group power and focus, and – dare I say this word in this new era of testing their little butts off – fun?
I guess I can understand it. Here we are, asking them – during the course of their school day – to create something in the mighty realm of their imaginations, precisely at a time when, over the past four to six years in their young lives, that faculty in them, that part of their lives, has been largely ripped away and chewed on by people who think that what is best for them at that time of their lives (10 to 15 years of age) is to take a test on something, to prove that they know some item or other, to get ready for the big test at the end of the year, so that we can catch up with the Japanese or whoever it is that we are behind that year.
It’s all about control. Let’s give them as much as we can in our classes! God bless them, for growing up bravely in a world of testing that’s getting worse. We can forgive them for getting a little obsessive about all those bizarre details of some of the things that come up in our classes. It may be the only time of day when someone asks them to imagine something.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
5 thoughts on “It May Be The Only Time Of Day”
This is so funny! You’re right. I used quia for the reading part of my finals so that I could just paste old stories in and ask questions in English. Before I pasted the stories, I changed the facts…a different-looking girl hid a lamp, not the sun, under her computer, not her pillow, and so on. Every single kid had to call me over and tell me about the mistakes. And they all did it with a degree of accusation. “Is this the way the other class wrote the story? This is not our story.” It happened even with some added details of stories that I kept from the beginning of the year. They really did not like to have their stories messed with.
I’ve been out of touch for a bit, Ben, but nice to see things are still going strong here on your blog.
This entry reminded me of something I read this morning in Teaching With Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk (p. 68-69): “We all want to have some control over our own lives and when we feel we are losing that control, we will fight to the end to get it back. Likewise, if our sense of self worth is being attacked, we will rise at all costs to defend it.”
In a TPRS class story lesson, it may be one of the few times in the day where the student feels like he has some kind of control over his learning process. It may one of the few times when the value of his personal creativity and input is appreciated, and recognized as essential to the success of the class. When this individuality and creativity is appreciated as more than just a tertiary or unnecessary part of the lesson. I guess it makes sense that kids will fight for that.
In August, when I start my second year of teaching, I think this will be one of the major differences in my understanding of TPRS. TPRS doesn’t work because we are great storytellers, but because stories create a rich forum for interaction between teacher and student that wonderfully facilitates the learning process.
Last Friday I spent so much time (more than I should have probably) in discussion with my 6th period class reviewing and finishing our story. We were having so much fun! We had great actors that were engaging everyone with their buy in and energy in acting out the story. We were arguing in French. We were all laughing. Some of us even had tears in our eyes (of joy).
Did Nessie (formerly of Loch Ness but now living in Lac Titicaca) eat the baby (who was a Ninja Assassin) or did the baby win? One of my students really wanted a zebra in the mix. I’m not sure what he was going to do? I wanted Nessie (whose egg had been fried and who I related to as a mother!) to win and have a barbecue with the baby Ninja! (I’m a vegetarian but I was hungry!) Then there was the faction who wanted a shark to come out of the lake and …
We are so lucky aren’t we? I think the kids really feel a difference when they get to play and be creative with us! And those images/stories they create are so powerful to them and really do stay with them a long time.
Youpi! I love those moments and those days that might seem like nothing much got done and yet there was so much French so much laughter and real engagement from so many students!
Michelle, what a great way to review! This is very similar to how I actually tested the students at the end of the semester, but I did not do any practice with that exact format. That is a great way for them to really get some more CI in the form they will see it on the test. thanks for the recommendation.
And right on Ben, Steven, and Ruth! It is relieving to be able to have a bunch of kids contradict your suggestion for a detail, and to be able to just say, “oh, ok, he’s not ugly, he super-handsome” without feeling we’re losing the important control, the control over the rules that keep the CI running uninterrupted.
Something occurs in the invisible world when the kids know that what they say counts. It’s no longer you teaching the class, it’s you and the students working together. Whenever I see a teacher working so hard – sometimes even frenetically – and there is that sense in them that they are nervous that the kids really need to learn what they are teaching, the students feel that and shut down because they know that they won’t get to play. It’s not even personal with the teacher, that shutdown, although many teachers like to think that the kid is shutting down because they don’t like the teacher or because they want to be a jerk. That is not true. They don’t participate because they don’t understand what is going on and because they don’t feel valued, that the curriculum is more important than they are.