Saturday, March 24, 2012

Met Her For Twix

Let me assure you now, that within almost 100% certainty this post isn't about you, but difficultually is about something I can't write about directly. Unlike Met Her For Ix* which I wrote some time ago and could quite possibly be about you.

Enough with the tauntery! On with the metaphore, which is probably actually a lowely analogy.

Zaman struggles with vowels, so much so that we don't really know if his name is spelt Zaman or Zamin. We both use Zamin, but then the Fitzroy Learning network that introduced us, calls him Zaman. We share a look that we both know as 'we don't know' over the 5 years I have been tutoring him.

He was struggling to spell 'sticky' which seems like an obvious word to use, but to do so just from hearing it - for example Zaman doesn't hear that the 't' comes before the vowel sound, so he will make a mistake spelling like 'sitky'. So in an attempt to teach him the consistent and logical rules of the english language (the trouble with which is that English is a mess, and every single fucking rule throws out exceptions with alarming rapidity) I got him to spell similar words that he is more likely to recognise.

'stop' he spelt 'stap', then 'step' then 'stip' then for good measure tried 'stup' and looked at me bewildered when I told them the vowel was wrong in each case. He had completely forgotten that 'o' is a vowel. Even though it features in the word 'vowel' he just doesn't think of it that way.

Now I could tell him 'you are forgetting o' but why go to the effort of getting him to make the connection between 'stop' and 'stick' (t comes before the vowel in each case and Zamin learns how to spell a common constanant cluster 'st' by hearing it) only to give him the crucial answer to which vowel makes the 'o' sound.

If I don't force him to figure this shit out by himself, he is far less likely to retain the information. He is just more likely to focus on the next opportunity to make a mistake, because he fears mistakes, rather than embracing them as a learning opportunity.

It's hard, it takes time, and I feel bad doing it. But I would do him a disservice otherwise. I think it's why he likes me as a teacher and a friend.

*Some years ago I decided I liked Twix bars so much I developed my own counters that goes 'Ix, Twix, Trix, Quix, Pix, Six - Ixty Ix, Ixty Twix... and so forth. Thus 'Met Her For Ix', is not Met Her For 9 in roman numerals, but in fact Met Her For 1 in my own unpopular, and too obscure to bother using** counting system. But like Superman I or Grease I it is just called 'Met Her For' because I didn't anticipate a sequal.

**unless of course you are me, the patron saint of wasted efforts.

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