Evelyn brought me up sharply with her comment on my last post. She wrote, “…Talk about intimidating! I’ve read it a number of times now and still have to work my way through it to get the meaning! What do you like about it?”
I don’t mind being brought up sharply. It makes me think—and write. Still, after two recent posts people have asked for clarification. Maybe I should learn something from this…
What do I like about the poster?
Its form is connected to the meaning. When I look at it, my eye is drawn to the lower right hand section, where everything is wrong—colouring, size of letters, spacing—in a word, maladroit. Not smooth. Not skillful. Awkward. (Yes, I had to look up “maladroit” in order to write that last little bit.)
And that is what the quotation says—as teachers, our attention is often drawn to the errors students make.
Deft. The opposite to “maladroit.” Skillful. Smooth.
“Nascent” is a word that I grasped when I read it the first time, because I thought I saw a connection to “naître” and “nacer,” the French and Spanish words meaning “to be born.” But I’ll have to go to the dictionary again in order to define it here: “coming into existence; beginning to develop.”
Skill is being born in our classrooms. As a teacher, my job is to look for that developing skill, even though it may be difficult to notice amidst all the awkwardness that calls out for attention.
Finally, the poster has been with me through the years as I gradually developed the art of marking for confidence. (Click here for a pdf that is written in MUCH plainer language than the poster.)
I was both intimidated and delighted with that quotation from T. Drummond, and as I struggled with working out what he said, I was struggling with finding a way to give feedback to students that didn’t focus on errors, but rather on their new skills. Over the years, both my struggles paid off.
So my apologies, Evelyn and other readers. I should have realized I needed to give some explanation of why I was posting that poster. I hoped it would delight you, and I forgot about how prickly it might be.