Friday, November 5, 2010

Eye Contact?

Some years ago there was a Teletubbies episode that featured a young boy having a drumming lesson.  He and his teacher each had a set of bongos; his teacher would drum out a riff, and then the boy would respond on his own drums, often repeating what the teacher did, and sometimes adding a little riff of his own.

When my husband saw the video he remarked that at first he thought the boy wasn't really paying attention, because he didn't look at the teacher while he was drumming.  But it was clear to me that the boy was listening intently to everything the teacher did, while looking at the floor.

I'm the same way myself.  I find it difficult to look at someone and simultaneously listen closely to what they're saying, especially if it's complicated.  I need to look at something neutral, or even close my eyes.

So how would someone like me, or the boy in the video, function in a classroom that insists that the students look at the teacher every moment (e.g., KIPP)? 

4 comments:

  1. Suburban Chicken FarmerNovember 6, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    One would hope a teacher would have the wherewithal to adjust his expectations according to the student's needs and abilities. I mean, otherwise wouldn't these ridiculous behavior management techniques (much of them are, "acting as if" Skinner Box mentality) just make everyone, including the teacher, nuts?
    Then again, if they don't have mastery of their subjects, coming down on the students for where their eyes are at any given moment is a great time filler.

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  2. Suburban Chicken FarmerNovember 6, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    "
    So how would someone like me, or the boy in the video, function in a classroom that insists that the students look at the teacher every moment (e.g., KIPP)? "

    Oh and, of course staring doesn't mean necessarily mean connecting either.
    You or the drummer boy would probably adjust, though not be happy nor be even one iota better educated at the end of the day.

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  3. My son with Asperger Syndrome was kicked out of his first preschool for this very reason. He wasn't looking at the teacher during circle time, and (unfortunately) would sometimes walk around the room while she was talking. She told me, "He doesn't seem to be listening at all, but when I ask him later what we talked about in circle time, he knew it all!" She had him kicked out anyway.

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  4. Oh, for heaven's sake. It's preschool! If he isn't bothering anybody, who cares if he needs to walk around?

    The teacher probably believes that "appropriate circle time behavior" is a "skill" that she needs to "teach". Barf.

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