Friday, November 03, 2006

Title trouble

My word processor says my nano-project is at 2000 words as of tonight--not where it should be, but it's progress. This coming week should be easier. The awards' banquet is tomorrow night and after that it's back to more or less normal stuff.

I showed my oldest what I have so far. Though I found a couple of glossaries with chatroom speak and have used those heavily, he pointed out where it wasn't natural and where the glossaries were out-dated. He is, after all, a teenager. He liked the MC's online user name, Troubled_Waters, enough to state that he thought it made for a better title. I hadn't considered it until that moment, but he had a point. So I'm toying with it.

I taught money skills classes today. As usual the kids were great, it's the adults that wear on my patience. Trying to teach a subject I'm still learning about myself in front of roughly 20 kids at a time is rough enough without three teachers looking over my shoulder. My teaching style is and always has been very hands-off and I believe firmly in not interfering in the process or passing judgements on how they choose to spend their money and I do not try to fix or explain everything in every lesson. What I don't teach today, I'll teach next week. Also, part of learning is making mistakes, and better that they make them with imaginary budgets in a classroom with me than once they move out on their own. One teacher persisted in going around and correcting them as they worked on the "allowance game" I gave them. I was more than a little irritated. When we talked afterward, I gently explained that my goal was to teach them how to think about money, and to let them teach themselves to plan with lots of activities that forced them to do so. "But you need to explain to them so they know it's coming . . ." No. I don't.

Many years ago I read a children's book entitled "Follow my Leader". In it a newly blind boy of ten went to a school to learn how to function as a visually impaired person. On his first day, while walking through a room, he banged his shin on the sharp corner of an end table. He moaned about it to an instructor.

"Somone should pad that corner," he said.

"Why?" replied the instructor.

"Because people get hurt when they run into it."

"True, but it wouldn't teach them anything."

"How so?"

"Well, what are you going to do the next time you walk through this room?"

"I'm going to remember that sharp corner."


The boy grinned. "Use my cane instead of my shin to find it."

"That's my point. Every time you bump into something in here, you get more careful and you learn to look for sharp corners before you run into them. Better that you learn this lesson here than out there where there are a lot more corners and a lot fewer caring people. Fact: the world will not pad its sharp corners for you. It will be up to you to look out for them."

This has become part of my teaching philosophy. People learn best what they experience themselves through hands-on experiences and failing is part of the learning process. Take away the opportunity for failure, and you get kids who expect padded corners. So I figure if I approach teaching with opportunities for failure then they are learning to expect the sharp corners.

No wonder there are so many kids passing through our schools who can't add/subtract or read.

Sigh. Okay, back to writing.

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