Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Worrysome Ones

Do you ever have a student, and you're meeting with them, and you can't figure out how to communicate about what's happening in a text that seems completely straightforward and "easy."  I'm not talking Derrida, but a short news article or the basic plot of a short story or a basic assignment explanation in a syllabus.

I had two of those conversations today.  We're looking together at the text, and the student can't seem to get what seems to me a fairly basic sentence.  And I can't seem to help them.

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, I'd sometimes be "part of" a conversation in Spanish, and I knew I wasn't quite getting the conversation.  (This also happened with television shows, usually in contexts where I couldn't stop to look up a word or ask for help with a word.)  That always worried me because I knew I couldn't be certain that anything I said would make sense in the context, and there seemed a good chance that I'd say something totally wrong or inappropriate. 

I wonder if my students are feeling the same way a whole lot of the time?

1 comment:

  1. I think I might have told this story before; but taking Aikido really helped me with students like these. Always before, I literally could not understand how anyone couldn't understand thing (like grammar, like interpreting texts) that seemed so basic to me.

    Then I took Aikido, where *I* was the utter failure in the class, where everyone else understood and could do everything right away, and *I* could not understand even the simplest concepts. (I am physically strong, and have always been good at things like hiking and biking and rock climbing; I didn't expect not to be good at Aikido. Surprise!)

    The sensei assigned me my own tutor, who worked really hard at finding ways to get the lessons through my Aikido-impaired skull, and EVENTUALLY I learned a few simple routines. But it was clear to me that everyone else could see and understand, clearly, when the sensei was teaching a lesson, data and information that was flying right past me.

    Now I am much more understanding when a student just can't see what I can see (and other students can see) when we're discussing grammar or metaphor or whatever. I break it down as slowly and simply as I can (like my Aikido tutor did for me); but yeah, even so, some students just won't be able to get it. You could work with me for 30 years. I don't think I'd ever be able to do Aikido.