Many years ago, I was given a class to teach, that the headmaster suggested I would need all my skills to cope with. I don’t know why I got that class – punishment? admiration of my skills? But I did manage. I learned the skill of “outwitting”. They were sharp kids.
I learned those kinds of kids, from poor homes, with career criminal parents, thrive on routine, praise and affirmation: that they are cleverer than you are in every way, except in book learning. I learned that their naughtiness was just their humour playing out in class. I learned little boys have about the same concentration level as this six year old rescue dog named Bass, that I am teaching to read; in almost every way.
We are having similar problems.
I must go into “outwitting” mode.
We have Routine – yes. At eleven a.m. we enter the sitting room. Mr and Mrs Furlong proceed into Tai Chi moves, while Bass lies on the carpet in front of us, making sure we do it properly as we follow our instructor on the TV. Reading Lesson comes afterwards. Bass likes Reading Lessons. Just like the boys in my class liked anything that made them the focus of attention. Yesterday he read beautifully. SIT, ASK, DOWN.
Though sometimes SIT and ASK get confused. They are the same length. Whereas DOWN is clearly different. He reads DOWN well.
After Reading Lesson, is the Walk. The routine needs to change, for by now, Bass knows Reading Lesson is followed by Walk and it severely affects his concentration sometimes. He prefers Walk. So just like my little boys in my naughty class, he does anything he thinks will generate a quick treat, before I’ve even got the flashcards off the mantelpiece. DOWN, ASK, SIT, ASK, SIT, DOWN, in any order, just so he can get released from “school”.
To outwit this, we will now Read before Tai Chi, as a routine. Or perhaps we should have Reading after lunch instead?
I have only presented three words, ASK, SIT and DOWN. The next two are DEAD and ROLLOVER. There won’t be a problem with ROLLOVER, but DEAD is the same length as DOWN. That means a dog has to differentiate between the actual letters.
My class had a problem with that too, but despite their deprived backgrounds, some of the boys in my class that year, went on to do amazing things!
I’m expecting the same from Bass….