The Problem of the “Problem”

Another thing about the problem of creating a problem in a story is that it depends on what our starting point is. If we start from a student card in Card Talk, we have less information than if we are working from an individually created image, which states problem, fear and secret on the back of the drawing and so is easy to get a problem going – it’s given to us! Somewhere in between there in terms of difficulty of getting a problem going are one word images.

It’s really a crap shoot and my conclusion after Carly first brought it up about a month ago is that we need to enter in to that level of the story with no trepidation or nervousness and allow the story to create, just as we strive to let our lives unfold with not too much worry and control and fear. Problems in stories either emerge during the creation of the story or they don’t.

Further complicating this issue, and I have never seen this abate in my 19 years doing CI, is the targeting of words that literally handcuff the creativity of the story, or as Krashen puts it, “constrains interest” in it. How can we get a good problem going when we are focused on teaching structures?

I don’t think that the message of just letting the story go is out there yet. People like to be nervous in a story, while trying to conceal their fear from their students. We really need to let the problem of the problem go and learn to take what we get during the flow of comprehensible input and then just bail if we need to.

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