We Can Do It If We Really Try

A repost:
Why should we transmit mere information to our students when we can transmit so much more: interest, meaning, fun? Maybe we could even transmit to them a reason to believe in life. Why teach merely to their minds?
Why not teach to their bodies and hearts as well? Maybe, if more of our kids’ teachers did that, we wouldn’t have so many shootings.
The problem is that most classes, except for art and music and classes and like that, don’t even do that. They don’t even try. They can’t transmit anything fun. So many classes are robotic and formulaic experiences for the kids. In some schools, kids hate art.
But in our classes, because of the nature of language, we can do more than merely transmit information – we can transmit so much more! We – little old us – can transmit levels of joy! I learned this from teaching my students and got a refresher course in it two summers ago from Kate Taluga.
What is joy? Anything that is interesting to the kids! Anything that they can feel in their bodies and laugh about. Anything compelling. Anything not so stuck in their minds. We can do it. We can do it if we really try. We can make the kids believe in themselves as learners. How about that?
Let’s try to keep this in heart:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18EAqHx2lMk

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7 thoughts on “We Can Do It If We Really Try”

  1. What a GREAT song – never really thought about the words to it before though! I am going to play it during “passing” time as kids walk into my room and sit and chat before class starts!! — so it “subliminally” sinks in. hahaha!!! (what a SNEAK)
    Hey — just checked found this WONDERFUL link from Jason Fritze on the iFLT handouts page……it’s about a truly inspirational teacher from the 50s – 70s. Be sure to click on the various links — esp. the one of the trailer. THANK YOU JASON!!! this has really inspired me!
    http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/touchofgreatness/index.html

  2. That song has always made the inside of my face cry. Like working with you, Kate, and learning to respect what is happening and what happened in your culture. That was one of the highlights of going to Oklahoma, and now I can look up on a shelf over my computer and see that soil you gave me. That also makes me cry just below the surface. But it’s a sweet feeling. No despair. Dignity.

  3. Thank you Ben. Right now I am teaching my town and another Muskogee town.
    The other town is all mixed up in crossing cultures. It comes from not having teachers immersed and living in their community. They have formed as members with Creek blood but not Creek culture. It is hard to see, much less to teach to.
    It seems like all they know is what they read in books because they are without authentic teachers. And I swim in trying to know what to present as I am not their authentic teacher nor do I want to attempt trying to break through their already adamant minds. They are adults. It’s just hard to know how they will take what I teach and portray it.

  4. What is their intent in working with you? I think your intent is clear, but they need to tell you what they want from you.
    Intent must be made clear. They are adults. They can tell you what they want from you before you get pulled into giving away your gold to them.
    Does this happen in Sak and Fox with Katie and the other teachers? How do they react? How old are their students? (I am very hopeful about what is happening there, even if Jacob is not directing the program anymore, because Katie and Mosiah really get comprehensible input. That is some of the best teaching I have ever seen. And because it was in Sauk language, my heart almost had a meltdown, thinking about how for so many centuries it was spoken there before the invasions. Do you remember how they taught? It is what everyone in this PLC wants, and they got it in one day!)
    But back to intent. Ask them what they want from you. When this blog was taken off the public radar, something happened to it. It became more effective. The intent of those who joined was clear to me. No stress, just joy of discovering how we can do this well, to bring joy to us and to our students. That is why we do this – for joy.
    Those who criticize what we do in our work with comprehensible input, who think that there are other ways to do it (there aren’t), who think that the conscious mind can learn a language, do not get that we do this for joy, so that we can have hope and share genuine happiness with our students in these dark times.

  5. I think Jacob is still directing that program too. And the Sauk/Fox are working at teaching the children. They are working with young adults like Katie and Mosiah, but they know that if they don’t teach there, their time is wasted because they will be wasting time on speakers who will age out before they are truly fluent. Their demand of learners (and really how can we demand much as it is up to the learner to take charge of their education) is different for the adults over 30.
    So I did ask that big question of what you want to learn a few months ago. I got conversational phrases and what I need to be able to understand what is being said to me when I go to the camp kitchen to eat. That is where I’ve set my stories. We are in the kitchen. These words are very familiar with me and I can always use the reinforcement for when I am actually in those camp kitchens.
    Another person in my community asked for Grounds language. That meaning the language we hear and speak when we are in “sacred space.” That I am unwilling to teach in the whole group. The belief system they have set up in their community is not Creek. It is a blend of many things they’ve read but have no grounding for. As one of my friends said, “It’s blasphemous!”
    So I will work with my own community for “sacred” language lessons and stick to the kitchen with the combined communities.
    I think for me the joy of teaching was stomped on pretty hard when they didn’t live up to their commitments to practice between sessions. A month is a long time to go. You basically just start all over each time. But isn’t that conversational language anyway? You just repeat the same conversation with different folks daily.
    to find my joy again in teaching, I am just going to let go of any expectations. Every word they seem to know will be a cause for celebration and the rest . . . I’m not giving them a grade and I am the only one grading me. Why should I be hung up by outcomes. They came on a Saturday afternoon.
    Ben thanks for giving us a place to work through our frustrations and gather support from each other. I so appreciate you!

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