A small book, a quick read that I saw lying on a table in the library. A romance novel with the end you absolutely expect, nothing in particular to think about afterwards, but so nicely written!
You can tell at parts that it was written in the sixties – the characters smoke so much and I, personally, would have had the heroine discover a career (not just her true love) but that’s just nitpicking.
I always feel, when beginning a new book, that a book takes me by the hand and tries to lead me somewhere.
This book gripped my hand rather tightly. The cover did refer to the book as “gripping”, right?
At first, even though I was bothered by too many descriptions, overly-stating things, I couldn’t stop reading. I was hooked. Tartt knows her craft.
But as I kept reading, my hand, the one held by the author was starting to feel numb. Too tight. There were the stereotypic characters, the platitudes. And more of the over-stating.
By the time the hero was hanging around Las-Vegas, I began fighting for air. Reading, as you know, is not something I dread doing.
I broke free after he made it back to New York. I skimmed a few facts (another death, yes – that guy was connected to shady things, right,) and read the last 15 pages.
I read 415 pages of the book, it’s not as if I didn’t give it a chance (it’s over 800 pages!). If it had been of average length I may have travelled the disance with the author despite the things that made me unhappy.
And yes, I AM one of those people who believe that despite life’s ability to throw cruel curve balls, stopping to look at raindrops on the petals of a flower, really look, is good for you.
It’s not very often that I read something that strikes me as so powerful that I have to put the book down and think about it. I can’t NOT think about it. And if , when thinking about it, it ties in with so many different perspectives, then I know it really must be powerful.
That’s how I felt after reading the first part of the book “Thus I Have Heard” by Jacob Raz (in Hebrew). This is the part that is about the birth of his child who has special needs.
Raz begins in a shocking manner,which becomes clear as you continue to read. He writes that his son came to him from his own death. Death and childbirth seem such a contradiction!
But actually, it is a double death. Something I never thought of before now makes perfect sense.
Raz writes how when the doctors lined up to tell him all the details of his son’s condition, and all the things the child was not going to be, he keenly felt the loss of the child he had imagined he would have. The one he had visualised growing up many a time, doing certain things, having a certain future.
Now the doctors had visualised a different child for him. Someone with a different future mapped out.
But Raz managed to do an incredible thing. He convinced himself that not only must his original imagined version of the child he thought he would have, disappear and “die”, the visualised child with the future his doctors had mapped out, must “die” as well.
Because he won’t be raising any of those children. He was going to get to know and raise the child he had, the one in front of him.
While Raz is writing about a situation, thankfully, that many parents do not experience, I believe his approach is nonetheless very true for every parent.
I believe that all parents have fantasies, thoughts and visualisations of what their child will be like. You don’t have to have a child with special needs to know that it never works out that way. Children are what they are and don’t have the characteristics, abilities and preferences we would like them to. We have to let go of that fantasy child in order to really see the child we have actually got.
To a lesser degree, it is the same in every classroom in the school system. You, the teacher, probably heard all about your student before the first lesson. Maybe you know that his brothers were excellent students and expect him to be one too, or that he is a troublemaker, or that she is an unmotivated student who doesn’t care about anything. We teachers must let go of the “student” created for us in the staff room. That image must “die” before we can really teach the student in front of us.
For me, the clever flash card app (and website) called Quizlet, is about as convenient as educational technology can get. Not only is creating study sets simple, the fact that there are auto-defintions to choose from (no need to switch languages!) and built-in picture options saves a lot of time. So easy to learn to use!
Add to that the fact that my deaf and hard of hearing high-school students are completely (and understandably ) addicted to their cell phones. Some of them don’t even have working computers at home anymore. Everything is done on the cell phone. Since my students also have a lot of trouble remembering vocabulary, I decided to add Quizlet to our program. It works on Android and Apple phones. I even treated myself to the paid version so I could easily track students’ progress.
I’m ashamed to say that I thought there wouldn’t really be any woes worth mentioning when implementing THIS Edtech.
First there were a lot of problems getting the students to join the classes I opened on Quizlet. Those who opened an account and joined the class on the class computer BEFORE downloading the app on their phone had no problem. However, those who downloaded the app before I sent them the invitation to join the class did not find the invitation when entering the app and did not join. I tried telling them to refresh the app to see the invitation but some had promptly forgotten their login information (despite my requests to write it down). By using the classroom computer we solved that problem, one student at a time. Good thing I only have 45 students in all three grades!
I have an Android phone. Students using Apple phones didn’t find the invitation link I sent via WhatsApp to be clickable. Luckily a student showed everyone that when they forward the message back to me, the link becomes clickable.
Some students registered using the Facebook account. Which is a huge advantage over losing your login information every lesson! But the user name students receive by registering this way is a number, not their name. I had to make a list in my diary of the students who registered through Facebook and their corresponding names (except for the ones with a very clear picture). A one time thing, to be sure.
Only two students immediately deleted the app after class, being annoyed that I’m taking up space in their phones. But many didn’t pay attention to the app (even though I told them that I’m using words and phrases from their exams!) until I began showing them Quizlet’s reports on student progress. The fact that they can’t just argue with me that they DID use the app when I said they didn’t is powerful. I get a report detailing students’ activity on the app. This fact has begun to sink in!
As of today I have a new “woe”. After some time has passed, I remove old sets of words / phrases from classes when adding new ones. I get a progress report for each set. So I don’t look at sets that have been removed. However, it turns out that unless students refresh the app, the previous sets remain. Some students practiced the old sets and I thought they hadn’t used the app at all because I no longer checked those sets.
I still think that choosing Quizlet was the right decision. But implementing it is not the “piece of cake” I expected.
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students