Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Catch up

Recently I have not been posting much. This does not mean I have not been writing. I have. But I have been writing on the Palm and forgetting to sync it to the computer on a regular basis. By the time I do sync it I look at what I wrote and say to myself,

"Nah, that's LAST week's news. It's not relevant."

Then I delete it.

Of course, for most of my readers it doesn't matter if I post something a week after it happens. It makes no difference. It only makes a difference to how I feel about it. Sorry.

I have decided to attempt to rectify this problem, at least a little, by (a) syncing more often, and (b) posting some snippets from the Palm which I have not deleted yet. Some of it has been there for a while, but I wrote some of it today. I am posting it all before I start thinking it is boring, and delete it.

Here it is.

1. Synesthesia
If a person has the kind of synesthesia in which they see sound as colour, and then use the Silent Way for learning a language, do they get confused? Or does their synethesia make language learning easier?

(Don't ask me where that one came from. I don't remember thinking it, let alone writing it.)

2. Huh?

The most cheerful student in the class is wearing a t-shirt that says;

I hate myself so much I want to die.

He giggled his way happily through most of the class. I asked him what his t-shirt said, and he giggled, covered his chest with his arms, and replied,

"I don't know."

3. Going blind

I get the class lists earlier here than at other places. They write the student names very, very small, in Kanji, and above that, even smaller, they write the names using the English alphabet. In recent years I've been finding the class rolls harder to read, but I'm not sure whether that's since they started using the alphabet instead of katakana, or because my eyes are getting weaker. Actually I'm almost sure the katakana was easier. When they used katakana I think the font was a little larger, and they certainly didn't make so many mistakes. They have some really odd readings of student names when they use the English alphabet. I can usually figure them out, but it can be embarrassing if I read what they wrote without thinking.

Unfortunately I am more likely to read without thinking now, too, because the letters are so tiny I'm concentrating on reading them rather than on whether they are correct or not.

I got a bit of a fright this week (i.e. last week - this is an old note). It was the first day back, and I had a horrible time trying to read the names. It wasn't too bad for the first three classes, but by the last class I was really tired and had terrible trouble with it. I did a lot of muttering to myself as I squinted at the page.

"I can't see!" I muttered. "This is terrible! I'm getting old! What's next? Will my hair go blue?"

I read through the roll painfully slowly, making a lot of mistakes. and causing numerous snorts and giggles as I went. Then, as I put the paper down, I noticed that the printing on the page under it (the list from the class before) was much, MUCH larger.

For some reason the university had reduced the size of the printing on that last class list to very wee, to make teachers think their eyes have aged 10 years in a day.

What a mean trick! I'd thought I was going blind.

After class I went off and copied the list, enlarging it to a size I could actually read. It could fit on one page and still be readable, so I don't know why they'd reduced it in the first place.

4. Time travel

I have a time traveller in my class.

"See you last week, in class," he said as he was leaving today.

I comforted myself that he had learned something, at least. I had just been teaching them how to use, See you.

"You can add something about time or the place," I told them. "Or both," I added, and demonstrated.

"See you tomorrow, in class."
"See you at 2 o'clock in the library."

And so on. However, I forgot to tell them that the time should be a future time. That was my fault, I guess. I thought it was obvious, but apparently it wasn't.

5. I don't even speak Italian

In the last class I got inspired and taught the students to say goodbye in Italian.

"Ciao!" they all said as I was leaving, and I was happy. I had taught them something, and they'd remembered it! Never mind that it was the wrong language. We English speakers have been using Ciao! long enough, and besides, it is in my dictionary. It may not have been English to start with but it's English now. Or near enough.

6. Panic

Over the weekend, and again last night, I went nuts looking for the paperwork for today's classes. Last week was the first day. What did I do? I could not find the student lists. I could not find my notebook. And didn't I get them to write self-introductions? If so, where did I put them? I knew I had probably done something like what I did last semester, but I wanted to be sure, because I frequently make last minute changes.. Also, I needed the material to take to work again today, especially the notebook. Didn't I buy a new notebook especially for these classes? Where was it?

I'm going senile, I thought.

This morning I was still panicking quietly when I left for work. (I panicked quietly because I did not want to give The Man more evidence about how disorganized I am.) I did not have my notebook. I did not have the class lists. I did not have the students' self-introductions and wasn't sure if they'd written any. I could not remember exactly what I did last week.

On the plus side, my bag was very light.

On the train I tried to remember the new students' faces. If I could remember just one, I'd remember what I'd done. It often works that way. But I couldn't. They'd left an indelible blank in my memory. I am losing my mind, I thought. Is this a short-term memory loss or a long-term memory loss? How long is long?How long is short?

When I got to work I found the class lists and student self-introductions (I had left them in my mailbox, phew!) but there was still no notebook.

Never mind, I told myself, bravely. I'll take notes on the Palm and then transfer them to the notebook later. I can manage. Managing is what I do.

About ten minutes before class I opened the Palm to think about which category I'd store the class notes in. To my great surprise there was already a category created for today's university. Also, there were the class notes from last week!

At that point the lightbulb went off over my head. I remembered. I had decided to experiment with a paperless semester, at least as far as notetaking goes. It was a brilliant idea! Instead of using the nice new notebook I had decided to keep notes on the Palm. Maybe that way I'd save paper, and also have less to carry around.

It was working already! I may have lost the new notebook, but the notes were all there, perfectly preserved, on the Palm. AND I'd had less to carry around.

Actually I would be a lot more impressed with my brilliant idea if I'd remembered having it. As it is, I'm still moderately impressed. I used the Palm again today. My notes are far more complete than they usually are. The spelling is a lot worse, but I have written more. This is because I had the Palm and wireless keyboard sitting on the teacher's podium, and every time I flew past I stopped to speed-type a couple more things. My speed typing on the Palm is a lot speedier and a lot less accurate than it is when I'm sitting down at the computer, but I can still understand most of it. Sometimes I typed while I was answering a student's question. I looked at the student while I was talking, and continued typing about something quite different. I was not just doing two things at once, I was thinking about and verbalizing two things at once. It was the ultimate in multi-tasking. The results from those times are somewhat ambiguous and tend to peter off into gibberish because I focus on the student rather than on the note, but most of the time I can remember what I was trying to write, and can fill in the details later. Overall there is nothing too difficult to understand. I've taken more notes than usual, and more RELEVANT notes. This is a good thing.

After finishing work today I wrote a note to myself in the calendar program. I dated it for next Saturday.

"DO NOT PANIC. NOTES FOR TUESDAY CLASSES ON PALM," the calendar will remind me. Apparently my memory does not go back a week these days. It might go back a few days, but not a whole week, and I do not want to panic again.

Aside from the minor glitch of not remembering I was doing it, it looks like this could turn out to be quite a successful experiment.


Cheryl said...

Synesthesia I understand, tenuously; I mean colours evoke certain moods and so do days of the week - you just have to match them.

Silent Way, however; what's that? Sounds like something to be learned up a Tibetan mountain!


P.S. Anout the notes scare - I reckon you allowed yourself to forget on account of everything being done and you not needing to remember to do anything. Or something. Make sense?

Badaunt said...

It's not moods that are evoked (or maybe they are as well - I'm not sure) - people actually mix up the senses, so they see numbers as having colour or sound, for example, or see shapes when they smell something, or whatever.

The Silent Way is a language teaching method that makes a lot of use of colour charts. There's a good explanation of it here, and if you scroll down you'll see examples of colour charts. I guess you could say that Silent Way uses a sort of learned synesthesia, teaching learners to associate certain sounds with certain colours. Hence my question: if a person ALREADY had that sort of sound-colour synesthesia, would Silent Way be harder, or easier?

I think you are entirely right about the notes thing, by the way. I forgot because I had already organized everything, and knew I didn't have to remember. It was PLANNED forgetting. It's a shame that I forgot that I had planned to forget, though, and why. I could have saved myself a fair amount of panic.

Fuzzball said...

OH MAN I've missed your posts so much! You are too funny. TOO TOO funny!

I'll see you ten years ago! Ciao!