Impure CI – 1

This exchange was recently posted to Latin Best Practices:

Jocelyn wrote: As far as what is “impure CI” – that is a good question – one that I think needs an answer by someone better versed in the method than I.  I guess I consider myself an “impure CI” user because while I am using more and more  spoken Latin in my classroom,  I also explain grammatical forms and ask students to write them.  I try to limit the glossing in my stories to a minimum  but even then there are words I think students should know but don’t so they wind up looking them up.

Perhaps Bob [Patrick, who along with our John Piazza are the founders of LBP  can help me with that question.

Bob responds:  I’m going to use this as a wonderful opportunity to respond to some things and in the process, hope it helps with the question.

Impure CI is what all of us do–to some degree.  We all have not only our own life experience in traditional Latin classrooms to contend with, but the energy of generations before us that have formed the atmosphere we work in trying to be CI teachers.  The default to something other than CI meets us every day, every hour and especially in the experience of each “difficult” student.  We become weary or frightened or angry and we default to what makes US more comfortable.

I am coming to see CI as a practice as much if not more than a “method.”  Method implies that there is a set of rules, an order of things, a set of lesson plans that, if we “learn” them all, will make us users of the method.  CI can look like that, but it’s not that.  It’s a set of practices that only refine with practice but which, fortunately, still work even when we are new and “bad” at them.  We are up against an emotional hurdle: practicing CI leaves us feeling inadequate and humiliated (most of which is entirely interior–no one watching us would come to that conclusion), and that makes us less likely to want to practice it again tomorrow.  But, we must if we wish to become “purer” CI teachers.  When I have felt my most discouraged, I remind myself of WHY I want to become a better CI teachers.  It’s about all kinds of learners making progress, giving them all access to this language and its benefits.

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