Tuesday, April 13, 2010

why does this take 1/2 hr to write when in real time it was 5 min?

let's discuss the complications of
ki vo shavat mikol melachto
asher bara elokim la'asos.

first, the external complications. i was hungry, chana was hungry, elazar was hungry. i wanted to get it done (when oh when am i going to learn that "getting it done" is completely counterproductive, not to mention giving the student the message that, in the words of the rambam, it's a burden to be cast off my shoulders). jack needed to be held. chana wanted to play on the computer and i told her i'd like to do chumash first. she agreed. but then she had no patience for me needing to get elazar settled with food, with tv, so we could concentrate.

so in that environment, already not ideal for learning, the pasuk itself is quite complicated for a student with chana's beginning skill set.

ok, she didn't remember that "ki" is because. no prob, i just used it in a sentence and she remembered it "i want to do it because i like it" or something like that.

vo, believe it or not, is complicated because 1) the student has to remember that beis and veis have the same meaning. 2) the beis prefix means in/with and 3) the vav suffix means him/his/it. (not to mention being able to correctly put in context the translation enough to choose whether it is him, his, or it).

that would be in addition to remembering yesterday's half, and seamlessly translating this into that context.

(we did do a brief review, which chana doesn't love. vayekadesh oso. she remembered and he made it special, and had a bit of a problem with "oso." she said "the same" like oto davar [nice association], and i gave her a sentence "lakachti oto" which got her to remember it is "him" but by that time she had lost the entire thread of vayekadesh oso...).

at this point, of translating "ki vo" and not quite grasping all the parts in a meaningful way, chana requested that we do only half of the half of the pasuk. i heartily agreed, seeing how complicated it was.

(ps my neighbor on the block who is homeschooling and whose child is in first grade is somehow doing 5 pesukim of chazara and 2 new pesukim a day... and questioning if she's educating well enough. fellow homeschoolers, do not fall into self-doubt! questioning if your approach is working or not is healthy. comparing yourself to others and spiralling into the stress and anxiety of a social approval framework is destructive).

anyway, moving on to "shavat" even though chana clearly hasn't gotten the flow of "ki vo" but not wanting to beat a dead horse...

chana has to realize that shavat is the same shoresh as shabbos. she has to realize it is a verb, not a noun (only plausible if she has the thread of the pasuk, which she doesn't). she has to realize that a verb with just the three letters of shoresh means "he in the past tense" ie "he rested." i told her all these things, feeling that she will not remember them, feeling that telling her things is not an optimal way for her to learn them but not knowing a better way. feeling that if i walked her through the steps she would lose patience. (suggestions welcome).

to remind her that shavat was rested, i reclined in a resting position. she remembered it when i did that. i said "ki vo" "because on it he..." and she yelled at me for reviewing, even though i was reviewing it and not making her review it, and even though the review is necessary for her to keep track of what's happening. (note to self: i think perhaps chana would be more receptive to review if i explain to her that the purpose is to hold all the pieces together to make the translation make sense. i have to figure out exactly how to explain it to her and then attempt to do so).

mikol was no problem, and melachto, despite it's having shown up 3x in the last few days, is still a blank stare. (note to self: i could have given her multiple choice to see if she could have at least chosen it from a few choices, which would be a little more active than me just telling her what it is. it is my thought that if she says it vs me telling her, it has a diff effect on the neural pathways of her brain and she retains it better). i pointed to the vav at the end and she said "him" which is close to "his" but not close enough for it to make any sense to her.

golden nugget of the day. chana asked how hashem rested (assuming that an omnipotent being has no need to rest, or what the rest of an omnipotent being would be like). although we have a section of her notebook set aside for questions, that is the skill of writing and spelling and frankly too exhausting for chana on top of all that translating that was so complex. so i wrote the question for her, and asked her what she thought. she thought that hashem finishing his work and not creating anything would be called "resting." ding ding ding. i wrote that answer in her notebook.

yeesh, i'm exhausted. i really think rather than going on to the second half tomorrow, i'm going to review what we did today. i will explain to chana why i think review is important. (why is review important? why not just tell her what it is in english so that she can move forward?)(i think because i'd like her to go through the movements of that difficult translation again. in terms of keeping the thread, it is true that i can just do it in english for her). and hopefully she will consent to just doing it again and not doing anything new.


  1. Whew! Sounds exhausting! It reminds of this (rather long) passage from Mortimer J. Adler's How to Read a Book:

    Reading is like skiing. When done well, when done by an expert, both reading and skiing are graceful, harmonious activities. When done by a beginner, both are awkward, frustrating, and slow.

    Learning to ski is one of the most humiliating experiences an adult can undergo (that is one reason to start young). After all, an adult has been walking for a long time; he knows where his feet are; he knows how to put one foot in front of the other in order to get somewhere. But as soon as he puts skis on his feet, it is as though he had to learn to walk all over again. He slips and slides, falls down, has trouble getting up, gets his skis crossed, tumbles again, and generally looks – and feels – like a fool.

    Even the best instructor seems at first to be no help. The ease with which the instructor performs actions that he says are simple but that the student secretly believes are impossible is almost insulting. How can you remember everything the instructor says you have to remember? Bend your knees. Look down the hill. Keep your weight on the downhill ski. Keep your back straight, but nevertheless lean forward. The admonitions seem endless – how can you think about all that and still ski?

    The point about skiing, of course, is that you should not be thinking about the separate acts that, together, make a smooth turn or series of linked turns – instead, you should merely be looking ahead of you down the hill, anticipating bumps and other skiers, enjoying the feel of the cold wind on your cheeks, smiling with pleasure at the fluid grace of your body as you speed down the mountain. In other words, you must learn to forget the separate acts in order to perform all of them, and indeed any of them, well. But in order to forget them as separate acts, you have to learn them first as separate acts. Only then can you put them together to become a good skier.

  2. (coninued from previous comment)

    It is the same with reading. Probably you have been reading for a long time, too, and starting to learn all over again can be humiliating. But it is just as true of reading as it is of skiing that you cannot coalesce a lot of different acts into one complex, harmonious performance until you become expert at each of them. You cannot telescope the different parts of the job so that they run into one another and fuse intimately. Each separate act requires your full attention while you are doing it. After you have practiced the parts separately, you can not only do each with greater facility and less attention but can also gradually put them together into a smoothly running whole.

    All of this is common knowledge about learning a complex skill. We say it here merely because we want you to realize that learning to read is at least as complex as learning to ski or to typewrite or to play tennis. If you can recall your patience in any other learning experience you have had, you will be more tolerant of instructors who will shortly enumerate a long list of rules for reading.

    The person who has had one experience in acquiring a complex skill knows that he need not fear the array of rules that present themselves at the beginning of something new to be learned. He knows that he does not have to worry about how all the separate acts in which he must become separately proficient are going to work together.

    The multiplicity of the rules indicates the complexity of the one habit to be formed, not a plurality of distinct habits. The parts coalesce and telescope as each reaches the stage of automatic execution. When all the subordinate acts can be done more or less automatically, you have formed the habit of the whole performance. Then you can think about tackling an expert run you have never skied before, or reading a book that you once thought was too difficult for you. At the beginning, the learner pays attention to himself and his skill in the separate acts. When the acts have lost their separateness in the skill of the whole performance, the learner can at last pay attention to the goal that the technique he has acquired enables him to reach.