Suggest Cute Answers? Maybe Not So Much…

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



13 thoughts on “Suggest Cute Answers? Maybe Not So Much…”

  1. I wonder if we should think about replacing “suggest cute answers” with the reminder that “anything is possible in this class” or “celebrate creativity”. I can’t really think of the right phrase, but since creativity has been squelched in so many of our kids over the course of their school careers, it seems that we need to remind them that their imaginations and creativity are important and valued.

    1. Yes but whatever we say will be ignored. The kids are so wasted on being told to be creative. They see it as an assignment. They must be allowed to just sit there and relax. Maybe not in Math or Chemistry, but yes, in language instruction. We need to make it possible for them to not feel poked and prodded during class. That’s where Story Listening comes in. I am so glad that Beniko’s book will be out soon (it has a pre-publication copyright on it already) and that Tina, by talking to SK and BNM every day it seems, is doing the work of bringing it to the greater CI community at large. I have asked Tina to write a small book on it for those who don’t want to read the big book. So that is actually almost done, right Tina? I already see other people following Tina’s lead and talking about Story Listening. Beniko and Tina have certainly started something here. And I see OWI being discussed a lot. Both SL and the Invisibles and Anne and Jim’s story scripts and indeed anything else can be used to LOWER THE AFFECTIVE FILTER and make our instruction much more palatable for the poor prodded kids. A new day is dawning. Thank you Beniko. Thank you Tina. For leading the way with Story Listening!

      1. I sent the short book to Beniko this morning. She’s going to look at it when she has a chance. It’s a google doc so she can type into it. It’s about twenty eight pages so far. I want to add a section on Assessment and one on extension activities that are CI versus not CI.

          1. She said it did a good job summarizing the SL process. I can’t wait to finish it. I am writing about assessment in it today.

      2. I do like not having to prod my kids. It’s easier on them and also on me. Because that feeling of relying on them for the cute ideas and hoping they help you is a nervous feeling I can live without on most days.

  2. I’ve seen “suggest cute answers” work with that rare, magical mix of kids. With many other groups it feels like I’m on a power trip. It is frustrating but true that there is no one right way to do this work. We are only guaranteed whatever students we get–everything else shifts around them.

  3. Thank you James for saying it again. There are no experts, there are no rules, there is no one way to do this work. There is only us as individuals who embrace the art and let it appear in each of our classrooms and individual classes in ways that reflect us, who we are. That is going to save this movement. If people like TPRS, then let them do it. If they like non-targeted, then let them do it. Live and let live. Work in service to children. That’s how I see it.

    1. Ben you said: Work in service to children.

      I couldn’t agree more!
      And although I feel like a kind of novice (after 27 years of teaching not too badly), just imagine that, I already see that in CI there is such a huge amount of possibilities that everyone can find things that will work best for them. But as you have stated elsewhere, we need to believe in the power of the unconcious that is in our deeper minds.

  4. Ben,
    Where does the term “suggest cute answers” come from? I thought it was your term, but reading here and there got me to wondering about that.

  5. Nathaniel I was blown away in about 2005 by something Blaine said on the morelist:

    Blaine has said this about personalizing the class:

    …I believe people who are the most effective at TPRS don’t tell stories. They ask questions, pause, and listen for cute answers from the students. The magic is in the interaction between the student and teacher. TPRS is searching for something interesting to talk about. That is done by questioning. Interesting comprehensible input is the goal of every class. If we are there to tell a story, we will probably not make the class interesting. We will be so focused on getting the story out that we won’t let the input from the kids happen….

    I wrote it up and pushed it on my blog (which is now this PLC) always citing Blaine as the author, because it put wind into my TPRS sails at the time. The problem of getting a story to work had been a big one for me for the first four years of doing TPRS – I couldn’t get them to “work” until I read the above passage.

    However, and this explains the above article, even this great suggestion still created an equity problem where only five to seven kids in each class would do that. So now I have taken it off my Classroom Rules because the cute answers thing lacks the power that the new stuff (Story Listening and Invisibles) has. When we align with Beniko Mason’s research more, we put mush less emotional stress on the kids.

    Requiring less from the kids so that they can just sit and enjoy listening, and not have to come up with cute answers at all, is the most important “new” (not new at all to Beniko; we have just been ignoring her research now for decades, fools that we are) development in recent months in the CI movement and it will change everything, in my opinion, for those willing to hear.

    1. Thank you, Ben. I am sure that I have read this, but needed the quote again.

      That is a powerful quote. I think the key is listening for the “cute” answers, as opposed to requiring “cute” answers.

      And this, “TPRS is searching for something interesting to talk about.”

      This part seems to be contrary to Story Listening, “If we are there to tell a story, we will probably not make the class interesting.”

      And yet, I wonder, if it is. Beniko is careful to distinguish her Story Listening from Story Telling. And given Blaine’s oft-repeated words (if you are doing something that works, let us know–we want to do it too), I am not so sure that he is speaking against Story Listening.

      I sense that what Blaine is saying is very much what you describe when you quote John Piazza in the Expansive Teaching post.

      I wonder what Blaine would be saying now about SL. Maybe he has spoken.

  6. Yes Blaine is every bit a hero to me. His vision is clear and his work on bringing SK’s work to light has no comparison. I would love in my work to say that I reflect what he and SK have brought. If I can say that, then I know that my work has been in keeping with the vision of this champion visionary.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben