Tuesday, April 05, 2005

two stars and a wish

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It seems that I think too slow and talk too fast. This is surely not a good combination, especially when it comes to first impressions. But I wasn’t the only participant at the seminar to be criticized. The instructor’s metaphor for constructive criticism was “two stars and a wish,” meaning that students should always be praised for two things, but also firmly reminded of what could have been better. I admit being shaken by the wish, but it also brought me closer to Maria (the fourth wonderfully interesting person I met at or near this event), who found her own wish as well a little harsh.

There is always a girl named Maria. She’s usually dark-haired and light-hearted. She lurks near doors, windows, and other liminal spaces that separate one world from another. Maybe you’re in Mexico or Russia or Greece. There will be a girl named Maria. She will insinuate herself into your thoughts, give you reasons to believe and something to believe in; she’ll make you want to be a better friend, just to be close to her.

I’ve had this idea for quite some time, but the seminar -- along with this great link (recently posted by Niko, to whom I am grateful and devoted) to an amazing poem that couldn’t be about anybody but a Maria -- provided the occasion to try to put it all into one (semi)coherent post.

Pensive Maria
removed her stockings

From her body came
voices of others
of a soldier who spoke like a bird
of a sick person who’d died of sheep’s pains
and the cries of Maria’s baby niece
that had been born those very days

Maria wept wept
now Maria laughed
she spread her arms at night
remained with her legs apart

Then her eyes darkened
black black blurry they darkened

The radio played
Maria wept
Maria wept
the radio played

Then Maria
slowly opened her arms
she began to fly
around the room

-- Miltos Sachtouris


Blogger Loxias said...

Of course, when you are a fast speaker it's tough on learners, but, please, tell the person with the cutesey handwriting and the Tweety 'bravo' stickers that 'dyslexia' is a cover term characterising a number of reading and, secondarily, writing disorders. It usually has nothing to do with perception of speech, for %£$**^%$'s sake!

9:43 am EEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but this is the sort of a post that I find myself totally insufficient to comment on in any way.

I think I'll just keep reading it again and again.

11:55 am EEST  
Blogger sissoula said...

Well, it was pointed out after I had been criticized (and not just by the writer of the cutesy card) that I wasn't actually teaching a lesson, and I wasn't actually talking to children, with dyslexia or not. I was presenting a completely hypothetical exercise, as we were all required to do, under pressure of time, for my peers. I was the only native speaker in the room, however, so perhaps I outpaced everybody when in fact, I should have been more careful.

Apparently, dyslexia can have some effect on ALL linguistic perception in some cases. In terms of auditory perception, following a series of instructions can be difficult and/or discriminating between phonemes or words (peg, peck). The criticism was valid, I'm afraid.

12:58 pm EEST  
Blogger Hector Drone said...

Strange thing is that, although Maria sounds like a common and low class name when it applies to greek women, it has the completely opposite effect when girls from abroad introduce themselves to you with the very same name... Strange, innit? Maybe it has got to do with you feeling less of a foreigner or something.
However, one last quickie: I understand the world Maria has some sacred background etc. but... if a girl inspires you to be a better friend, sorry to be so cynical and stuff, but it's not because she's called Maria - but because she is not that attractive after all...

10:23 am EEST  
Blogger De(e)lumina said...

Don't you just hate those 'teaching for teachers' type of courses?

All new lecturers in UK universities (including yours truly) are now required to take a professional academic practice course. In all honesty, apart from being a) a prime opportunity to meet new colleagues from other deparments and b) an excellent case in point of what not to do as academics and teachers, it is truly painfully frustrating and patronising.

As you probably know much better than I do, rule number one when addressing ANYONE as a teacher/communicator is to know your audience. The way you teach children/adults/high school students and law undergraduates varies immensely. Granted, criticism - when well meant, well thought out and well expressed - should be welcome. It's amazing what kinds of things you may be doing during a class that you don't even realise may be problematic unless someone points this out to you - and students may be reluctant to do so for all sorts of reasons. But placing you in an artificial environment with limited time and (seemingly) unclear objectives - was this an example of how you would teach? a simulation of how you do teach? a presentation of an idea to a non-student audience? - is just... well, wrong.

And the sticker?? Good grief! What kind of an educational experiment was that about? Was it trying to make you 'a child again' and identify with what it feels like to receive feedback from a 'superior figure of authority'? Vomitorium, please.

:) In other news, I love Sachtouris, too.
And dyslexia does indeed influence all aspects of linguistic comprehension but, then again, this is a 'know your audience' case: special provision is/should be made for all dyslexic students in academic institutions (we here, for example, have an individual 'learning plan') whereas if you are doing private lessons you will obviously be aware of the situation and (hopefully) act accordingly.

But I'm glad you enjoyed the weekend, you met new people and seemingly 'learned' by example 'what not to'... I'm just sorry I missed you!

2:00 pm EEST  
Blogger sissoula said...

Knowing the audience is the key point, and that is precisely the point that the instructor of this seminar missed. We were infantilized to such an extreme that I’m not sure we could really even be aware of it. I’m getting my thoughts together for an email to the instructor in question to express some things that I couldn’t get out then (we were given an evaluation form, consisting of about five questions with Agree/Disagree answer choices; it’s the kind of thing that railroads you into giving a positive response, even if it’s a false one). It’s not just about the money, but we did have to pay a pretty penny for the seminar. Nobody subsidized me, and all I got out of it was that juvenile tweety card. I’m (still) no expert, but I did learn a few more things about dyslexia than I knew before, and my life is richer in other ways, too -- despite some missed opportunities.

Sorry to go on so long, but I have to add sth about what Hector said. I just love the idea that hearing a certain name can make you feel less of a foreigner.

4:44 pm EEST  

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