Yesterday my brother, Adrian, challenged me to answer this riddle (in fact he offered me a million dollars if I could come up with the right word):
As soon as he said the word, his two year-old son, my nephew Luka, started screaming FOON-YEE and running around the living room full of joy and laughter. I scratched my head.
My brother, being a compassionate older sibling, offered up, “would you like a hint?”
When I nodded yes, he told me that FOON-YEE was something delicious that his mother-in-law often made for his son (hence the joy when he heard the word).
I had no answer. I gave up on my quest for a million dollars and asked him what FOON-YEE was.
He smiled and said “smoothie”.
When Adrian gave me the answer, I wished that there were more people like him that worked in my profession. He understands that:
“Learning is a transactional process, whether in infancy or the school classroom. That fact has been obscured by our conventional imagery of what a classroom teacher does, a conventional imagery which emphasizes what and how a teacher does and ignores what a teacher is learning; not only the neophyte teacher but any teacher, whether a kindergarten teacher or a college professor. The teacher who is not learning something new about himself or his students is shortchanging himself and his students. That is an infrequent disconnect between parents and their infants.”
I’m not suggesting that teachers start giggling about the ways that their students communicate with them, but I am advocating for more of an effort to understand before correcting. If Adrian had just told Luka to stop using nonsense words, then he never would have understood his son. He wouldn’t have known the idea that Luka needed help expressing.
Something to keep in mind in our classrooms.