Language of the Trees – 2

That first post about the grove of trees is an attempt to get deeper into the nature of communication, which is the overarching standard in our profession, and yet one that I am sure is not agreed upon, not in the least, by members of our profession.

Here is a link to the first Language of Trees post:

Communication and how we define it, especially now in the light of the recent and ongoing discussion here on authentic assessment, such an intimate cousin of how we teach, is in a very pathetic state in the WL field right now. Little of communication has much of anything to do with any of the actual research. People are still assessing kids in really what are barbaric and stupid ways. One teacher in my school is perfectly happy if his students “communicate” through memorized dialogues.

How does ACTFL define its own term? Does communication entail using words to interact with the teacher, or is something more than that? ACTFL is not clear what it means by the term, or at least I couldn’t find a passage defining it in their web pages.

Alisa sent this:

Not once in that ACTFL text is communication described in terms of awareness of others and listening to others as per the trees.

But I would say there is some serious communication going on right here:

What about the image of those trees in the night being aware of each other in a deeper way, a more light-filled way, a more reverential way, a more ascendent way, there in the grove like that? And how to assess ascendence?

That could be our classroom. What about that image? Perhaps it points to a new definition of Communication as ascendent awareness of each other, of what each other is saying or not saying, of being present there in the quietude of the light-filled night time, in that time of building a story together with lots of happy awareness by everyone in the room. Students nourishing their teacher and vice versa, communication as the Zone of Proximal Development, of reciprocality and back and forth sharing of real things.

I define communication as loving awareness of each other in a language class. This year here in India I have created a very specific way of consciously making this happen in my own classroom and so far the results are very positive. Look at what Claire has bravely said here lately and appreciate and respect her words.

I will bring this idea – I already told Carol and Judy – to the summer workshops.

Communication as loving awareness and verbal sharing that elevates us in our TPRS classrooms. Hmmm. Trees in the middle of the night, aware of other trees. This has been the theme for me this year here in the American Embassy School in Delhi.

You should see my students. I want to fall down on the carpeted floor and, staring at the ceiling at certain points in class, point to them with tears in my eyes and say, “You light filled little kids don’t even know what you are about right now! You are so fantastic! You are spectacular! Your laughter and originality in this story, your artwork, your sense of fun, your understanding of the language, it is all so wonderful to be even a par of. Your laughter is witness to the First Laughter.”

But on some level they do know. Now if we can just fix the assessment piece we can have this ascendent kind teaching all the time.



5 thoughts on “Language of the Trees – 2”

  1. “and they are put together in a specific kind of alchemical way of fitting them together in a class. ”

    It’s gold he’s making. Truly.

    King Midas, go write us that book. 🙂

  2. I’m still reading comments. THANK YOU, Claire! I need the moral support right about now when all I have in front of me is a bunch of blog articles and tired eyeballs working on the project. But I’m feeling it. Alchemical is the word. Linda’s starting to show an interest. Zach gets it. One word – badass. IF I can get this stuff down on paper, that is. Thanks for the good vibes! Writing a book is a royal pain in the ass. (How did pains in the ass get to be “royal”?)

    1. That is a great, thought-provoking video, jen. I love this: “These plants are not really individuals in the sense that Darwin thought they were individuals, competing for the survival of the fittest. They are interacting with each other, trying to help each other survive.”

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