Sunday, April 11, 2010

some days are like this

well, today wasn't great, but i kept my cool. mostly.

so i knew chana wouldn't remember melachto even though we did it yesterday. and i figured vayishbot would be tough, even though she knows shabbos. so i told her vayishbot means rested (she got the "and he" with no problem, at least). but she absolutely fell apart when we got to melachto. it's just too many steps. she doesn't like to look up words that she wrote in her personal dictionary (sarah used to, but i guess every kid is different). she didn't remember that the tuf from melachto was a "hey" and went into a full blown temper tantrum that she doesn't remember anything from r' winder and she wants me to just tell her. she thinks the tuf means "you" (which it often does) and is confused about that the tuf is a hey with a prefix. she also doesn't remember the vocab from one day to the next. even though i sang her a song with it. she was so nasty i walked away from her, telling her she cannot speak to me that way, leaving her sobbing on the couch that she just doesn't remember anything from r' winder.

luckily, somebody called asking me to go for a walk, which motivated me to quickly break the impasse. i went back to her and asked her what she wants me to do in those situations. she said, "just tell me what it is." i said but then it's not you translating, it's me translating. she said, "just tell me what it is." clearly she doesn't care who is translating, because her goal (understanding the pasuk) is not exactly the same as my goal (having her learn to translate as independently as possible).

then, we had another small tussle, which is that although she translated all the words independently, i wanted her to go back and "put the puzzle together" ie figure out what the whole phrase was. chana feels that this is "review" (even though to me it isn't, since she never fully understood it as a whole). she reluctantly translated again, and put it together. very nicely.

also, today was the first time that she translated "asher" as "that" without my "th..." prompt. i held out my hand to shake hands with her, saying that this was the first time she remembered it without my prompt. she ignored my hand and turned away, pouting. i said, "you are angry with me about the translating." and she nodded.

i have to get through alfie about praising. also a point to ponder is that she is clearly telling me what she wants and how she wants me to handle her not remembering vocabulary. also to note that she learned the word "asher." her way.


  1. Great blog. Thank you for sharing your day-to-day experience with homeschooling. So, is Chana in the equivalent of 4th grade now? Why not skip the hard words? Maybe as the easier translating skills become really easy for her she will feel ready for the challenge of the more difficult skills. I also highly suggest teaching yourself a new classical language so you can share in her experience.

  2. By the way, I was just skimming some of the previous posts - what is wrong with reward systems? I understand that when a child gains knowledge which can be put to practical use and is meaningful in her own framework that a reward might be silly and even damaging. However, what about knowledge that the child cannot view as intrinsically meaningful? I'm thinking about the Rambam's reward system, for instance. Now, if Kohn could prove his theory that would be one thing. However, as with much of educational theory, in the end what matters is what practically works. Does his system work?

  3. yehuda, chana is in 3rd grade. interesting suggestion about skipping the hard words. this is what chana would like. however, i worry how she will gain any vocabulary, since "hard" means "new" and then how will she learn? simply because they keep showing up? i will think about this.

    i began studying gemara at age 17/18, so i am familiar with plunging into a text knowing zero aramaic. unfortunately, i think this will not help with chana's experience, since as an adult my mind is more capable of noticing word repetitions, putting phrases together, and being willing to look things up in a dictionary and take notes and reference them. all of this is beyond chana's mental capability right now. it would probably make me less patient with her.

    one of the reasons i began this blog is to explore alfie kohn's position. i started with the hava amina that a child cannot be expected to care about translation skills. and the rambam's position about rewards for the person on his level and his interest. and mitoch shelo lishma ba lishma.

    despite this, i am finding alfie's position compelling. i continue to explore and think about the issue.