Not Enough Reps

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5 thoughts on “Not Enough Reps”

  1. While Monday is usually my PQA day where I do nothing but reps of the three structures, I am still puzzled as to how little is being retained. I am not talking about my 8th graders – as they are literally model CI students – but my upper levels. It truly disturbs me to get those deer-in-the-headlights looks when I talk about something that I know has been “rep”ed way more than the magical number (whatever that number may be). Sometimes I feel like the kids are just empty shells occupying space in the classroom – almost “Stepford”-like. I honestly loose sleep over this. I think that I should rep certain structures even more, but then I still don’t get the buy-in. I can’t even get them to turn on their brains. Today, we were talking about what constitutes a miracle in their minds (in preparation for the movie “Das Wunder von Bern”). So, one kid finally came up with the idea of a cure for AIDS. I said, wouldn’t it be marvelous if one of them became either a doctor or chemist (both cognates) and found a cure for this disease. I wrote “Chemiker” on the board – nobody could come up with chemist (however, several of them thought it meant cake maker). I wanted to start crying right then and there. Instead, I pulled myself together and very patiently gave them the correct translation. How is it possible that 15-/16-year olds don’t have the capacity to think beyond what is spoon-fed to them. Is it wrong of me to hope for some independent thinking?
    Sorry for going off on a tangent. All I really wanted to say was, YES, more reps are the ticket!

    1. How is it possible that 15-/16-year olds don’t have the capacity to think beyond what is spoon-fed to them.
      Because this is basically how education has worked for them ever since kindergarten. Perhaps not just education but life as well – everything comes in pre-digested bites for them to ingest without work. I get the impression (I hope it’s false) that many students have never had to think their way out of a difficult situation, have never had to make connections between what is on the board and anything else, have never had to look at ramifications of actions or ideas. But I don’t think it is limited just to high school students. When I was working on my MA in Madrid, I had a class on Spanish film. We were presented with a short reading in Gallego and challenged to decipher it. The class was full of native Spanish speakers, and they couldn’t get figure it out. After a short time I saw the sound/graphic correspondences and began telling everyone what the article was about. The professor laughed while everyone else asked, “How did you do that?” But is was just so obvious to me. Of course, I also think Borges makes sense.

      Is it wrong of me to hope for some independent thinking?
      Not wrong, but probably fairly hopeless. Still, there will be occasional flashes.

      Until we get engagement, part of this is simply the result of students’ not caring and being self absorbed.

      1. …I get the impression (I hope it’s false) that many students have never had to think their way out of a difficult situation….

        I think it is true for the most part, Robert. There may be a few kids whose parents actually prepare meals and encourage discussion at the dinner table and who have shielded their kids from all the assorted mind-numbing media available to them, but for the most part we are in a hell state in terms of what our kids – even the gifted ones* – are capable of doing reciprocally in classrooms that are based on comprehension and participation and enjoyment of each other and playing with the language.

        We can’t afford to forget this point as we attempt to engage our kids in higher order thinking in the form of comprehensible input every day. If we think that the problems in activating the method in our classrooms lie entirely in our inabilities with the method, we may be making an enormous mistake.

        We cannot beat ourselves up about a failed story or bad PQA. I tried to make that clear in the recent article here:

        https://benslavic.com/blog/2012/04/23/can-comprehension-methods-succeed-in-schools-1/

        The entire purpose of that article was to send a supremely important message to all of us as we struggle daily to rethink and painstakingly reform our professional base into comprehension based teaching – it’s not all about how shitty we are at this stuff!

        Elissa has been going down to NYC to teach Spanish classes. Catherina is in that group, actually. Elissa’s big success in that work supports my point above. Elissa please send us a link and information on that if anyone reading this in that area wants to learn Spanish from a wonderful TPRS/CI/TCI teacher while observing the method in action. It works so easily with motivated adults! That should tell us something.

        In fact, we are working in an extremely crippled environment in terms of kids’ readiness and preparation to do what we ask of them (to be a human being and show up for our classes with their ears fully attached and to learn to interact in positive ways with others and to help us teach them). And it really points up the need for the entire metacognition piece to go in full force next year, at least in my opinion, as per:

        https://benslavic.com/blog/2012/03/25/metacognition/

        *even the 4%ers who used to dominate the classrooms with the sheer force of their robotic intellects, as per Bob Patrick’s recent post here.

      2. Engagement! There is the key. Most kids are not asked to engage, touch, hold, experiment, explore! They weren’t thrown out the door to push worms around under leaves with a stick. Their parents were the first fierce generation of video players.

        Engagement!

  2. …I honestly loose sleep over this….

    So kind you are to say it so that I can know I am not the only one. My response is short – we are not dealing with people, across the board with not too many exceptions, who actually want to learn and who value what we offer. That’s gonna affect our results.

    Being evaluated by administrators and students who largely aren’t aware of the earthquake in language education (is is just out of earshot to them, or miles away), and having students like that, is no reason to lose sleep, however.

    If you think about it.

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