Monday, December 06, 2004

Identikit artist

Today in my smallest class (only nine students today) the lesson in the book was about describing people. After doing some of the textbook activities it became clear that the students weren't really getting it. Well, they were getting the language just fine, but it wasn't real for them. So I invented, on the spot, a game called 'Identikit pictures.'

This started when I paired myself with a student (because there was an odd number) and asked her to describe someone she knew. The other students were doing the same thing, in pairs, and not finding it very interesting. As my student was describing the person, I was doodling in my notebook, idly, and suddenly realised that trying to doodle what she was saying was making me aware of what language was necessary. So I started asking her questions, using language that was not in the text and explaining it to her as we went along. "Are his eyebrows thick, thin, average? Do they arch, or are they straight? Is his face thin or wide? Does he have a big chin?" And so on.

As she answered my questions, I drew the person. I exaggerated the bits she said were not 'average'. (Thick arched eyebrows, downward slanting eyes, wide nose...) She was looking puzzled, and kept wanting to see what I was doing, but I hid it from her until we'd finished. Then I held it up.

"Is this him?" I asked.

She stared at the picture for a moment, looking stunned. Her jaw dropped. Then she let out an ear-splitting scream. "My FATHER!" she shrieked hysterically. She grabbed the picture and waved it at the others. "LOOK! It's my FATHER!"

Eight more jaws dropped, and chaos erupted. They laughed themselves silly.

After they'd calmed down a bit one of the other students asked, still laughing but aghast at the same time,

"Does your father really look like that?" .

She looked at it again.

"Well, no," she said. "But ... but ... there's something... " And she collapsed again.

I would show you the picture, but she confiscated it, to show her father. (Uh-oh.)

After that things really picked up. I got the others also doing Identikit pictures, with similarly hilarious and awful results.

Those of you who are familiar with my artistic abilities will understand why my picture caused such mayhem in the classroom today. You will also understand why I am a little worried. Luckily it's a women's university, so it should be easy to spot any angry-looking men striding around campus looking for someone. I'll be extra alert over the next week or so, ready to make a speedy escape if I spot that sinister-looking face I drew in class today.


Zelda said...

A HA! I found you! I came across your blog ages ago. I really enjoyed it, but then I lost it somehow. I'm glad you read tinyhands.

Badaunt said...

I wasn't lost. I was here all along!

Zelda said...

Yes, you were and now I get to have the fun of reading all the posts I missed.