Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Art of Imitation

If imitation is both art and the highest form of flattery, Anderson's teachers should feel incredibly flattered and impressed by his amazing artistic ability. He is, quite possibly, the best mimic I've ever had the opportunity to watch.  He imitates the teachers in his school for a good part of his free time each day. He's so good that, at this point, I can tell which teacher he's choosing to be in that particular moment. Today, for instance, he had on some lovely pink sunglasses and was walking around, carrying his cup of milk in a little tub. I knew immediately that he was Mrs. D, his special ed teacher. I can tell by his facial expressions when he's doing his regular classroom teacher or the kindergarten assistant in his room. He's very precise, and he stays in character amazingly well for a child who struggles to focus on ANYTHING for longer than about 30 seconds.

This is both awe-inducing and maddening--and when I say maddening, I mean that in the most extreme sense of the word.  The issue is that he clearly doesn't understand the difference between what is literally occurring in the classroom, and his purpose for actually being there. He's always watching and taking it all in, but he's not an active participant.  At night when he comes home, he can do a read-aloud with the precision of an experienced teacher--complete with comprehension questions and reminders to his students that they should not be talking while he is talking.  But read a story to him, and he has no clue how to listen to it, much less to listen for specific things like setting, characters.  Instead, when I read to him, he's imitating the other people in the room. The assistant who is quietly calling students over to sit with her. The teacher who comes in the room to pull an intervention student.  He's doing what he sees, but he doesn't understand that what he should be doing is listening and learning. MADDENING.

He's learned a lot this year, and he is making progress. I can't stop thinking about the struggles he's going to face as school gets metacognitively more difficult. with the new standards, this happens in 1st grade instead of 2nd or 3rd. I guess it's just something we will have to deal with as the time comes.

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