Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour! Quoi de neuf? Moi? Je suis un peu perplexe comme toute le temps. Oh I’m just existentially confused like all the time. Should I try harder as a writer? Should I become the children’s book illustrator that I’ve always wanted to be? How do I get a better drawing habit going? How can I be like Léa Maupetit?
But, one thing I am not confused about is (wow this tone and transition sounds super bloggy and perky) . . .MONTESSORI FRENCH!
Well, yes, I am a little confused about it but so far it’s going well.
On Wednesday, I utilized my first “montessori French work” (see photo here). There were a few discussions with the director of the school and the lead teacher about this work.
First, it is meant to be paired with the English “parts of the classroom” work. I believe this is language work, although I might be wrong. So, we thought about things like, should we have the French words be in the same color as the English words or different? If it is in a different color, does it become “farther away” from the English? Should part of the learning be recognizing that a French word is a French word? We knew we wanted the font to be exactly the same (interestingly, the school uses Comic Sans because it is most similar to the way montessori children learn to write their letters. I find this really cool because in my small life as a not so great graphic designer, we would mock Comic Sans Font. Like we were font bullies. We’d sit around our office and be like “comic sans, what a loser! Papyrus? Don’t even get me started. Wow. What pretentious jerks we were. How useful script fonts are for education!). Anyway, we decided on using blue for French. And, interestingly in looking at the way English learners and French learners learn nouns, French always has a gendered article, where as English does not. So, part of teaching this to students was teaching them the idea of saying “la” or “le” before the word. I think blue designates it as another system but the font and the size are the same, so it’s graphically “equal.”
In tackling this teaching opportunity, I am very aware of my non-precise ways. I make a lot of mistakes and typos and have also entered a period of my life where I follow this rules: I do the thing I think is best regardless of whether or not I know it is “allowed.” There have been many instances where I rely on a more experienced teacher to tell me that I’m doing something wrong. This has honestly been a great way to live life because after being embarrassed about not being “right”, then you just get over it. I have a lot more to say about this in terms of gender but I think women are often conditioned to not break rules. I don’t like this. So, I’m trying to de-condition myself. Also, I want to make sure I’m not conditioning students based on gender (which I’m sure I am in a lot of ways but am trying to monitor).
Anyway, the French work is “floor work” so it involves a rug and is a “two friend” work so it involves two children working together. One labels the English and one labels the French. The lead teacher commented how logical it was when the children chose the same object to label in both French and English. I completely agree (also I really love having another teacher point out things like this; I was totally alone in the classroom in my five years of adjunct teaching in a college because it’s an Aristoliean, teacher centered philosophy and I really like the idea of me learning from someone who knows more than me or who just has a different view. This is actually like Vygotsky for teachers–learning is social. Hmm, perhaps you know why I am writing this on a Friday night at 6:47pm. People at cool bars don’t like to talk about Vygotsky. Lame. Have fun hanging out with Papyrus, jerks!)
Anyway, I realized that the children were, while doing this work, having a rather monolithic cognitive leap. Dr. Montessori’s ideas on language are about traveling between the abstract and concrete–children start learning that every thing in the world has a word associated with it. Language is like the most abstract thing ever (well maybe physics and music too? what do you think Noam Chomsky?) but for a three year old child to understand that things can have words in two different languages is pretty amazing. Like, this window is called a window but there this is whole other French universe where a French child knows this as “une fenetre.” Oh my gosh and that’s only like one language. There’s so many being spoken all the time! A window is une fenetre est खिड़की! That’s a little bit mind blowing, non?
Funniest moment of my week:
- At lunch a child a finishes his lunch then starts to walk really fast and turns around. I note that he is getting a little out of control but I’m in a conversation with another student and I sort of want to see how this plays out for him. He falls down and then gets up and says “Don’t worry, I’M OKAY!” but no one even noticed he had fallen. I don’t know why but I found this so funny.
- A four year old child tells me what he’s going to wear to movie night,
G: “My play clothes.”
Me: “What are those?”
G: “Not my uniform.”
Me: “Maybe jeans?”
G: “I’m not really a jeans person.”