Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Deutsche Sprachlehre fuer Auslaender mit Omi

So, I have committed an hour a day to becoming reacqainted with German. I thought that one of the best ways to try to learn to really speak German and get beyond the limited forms of expression provided by the grammar books would be to try to talk German with my mother, who was born in Germany in 1930. The only problem is that with Omi EVERYTHING is an argument and this makes it difficult to get through even a single thought in English, let alone in a foreign language. So my mother has asked me to give her a ride to the bank this morning, and now I want to try out the German I know after doing die Ubungen about the bestimmte und unbestimmte Artikeln.

Sharon: Mutti, wann du gehen willst, werde ich fertig.

Omi: Ach, Sharon, no--nicht wann, wenn--Wann is a specific time.

Sharon: But mom, I want to say when you are ready, not if you are ready

Omi: Sharon, it's wann willst du gehen

Sharon: No, mom, I am not asking a question--I want to tell you something, that I am ready to go when you are ready to go

Sharon: Okay, im funfzehn Minuten gehen wir--mit dem Auto? Is it mit oder beim? Beim Auto, Mit dem Auto?--and then my mother goes

Im Auto? nach dem auto

Sharon: hinter dem Auto, uber dem Auto, vor dem Auto

Omi: that would be suicide

And so the German will be learned--sehr langsam.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Socrates: It is, Callicles, from the ranks of the powerful that the supremely wicked are drawn. Yet there is nothing to prevent good men from being found in this class also; and they, when they occur, are entirely admirable, for it is both difficult and most praiseworthy, Callicles, to live a just life when one has great opportunities to do wrong. Few, therefore, have survived this test, yet here and elsewhere they have sprung up in the past and there will, I don't doubt, be further examples in the future, honorable men endowed with the virtue of administering justly whatever one places in their charge.
Socrates: Now what about the soul? If it is in disorder, can it be excellent? Or must it have some sort of order and harmony?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Favorite quotes from Nietszche:


"Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously!"

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Maddie's First Job

Maddie earned her first ten dollars at the mall the other day. Unbelievable! Who would have thought that her opinion would count in market research, but it does. She took two surveys--one in which she identified cartoon and disney movie characters and another in which she had to recognize juice boxes by brand name. I let her go in by herself, but I sat outside the door in the hallway and listened. When the second survey came up, I thought she'd have to opt out because we only drink one brand of juice since she can't have corn syrup. I was amazed as I listened to Maddie go on and on about Hi-C, Kool-Aid, Sunny D, etc. in great detail. At the end, the lady paid Maddie five dollars for each survey. Maddie was delighted with it all.

Several hours later Maddie wanted to get into this "philosophical discussion" about the nature of truth and lies. What is the truth, really, she wanted to know. Is it okay sometimes to tell a little lie? She rapped up the conversation with the telling comment, yeah, I didn't think the lady would understand about corn allergy, so I just made it easier on her and talked about juice, even if I had to make some of it up.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

the irony of academe

Kurt Spellmeyer:

Although Marx wrote a dissertation on insurgency, he completed his research with the aid of highly competitive fellowships; although he sided with landless peasants, he cut a sharp deal with Harvard; although he argued for cooperation and equality, he beat out his colleagues in the struggle for a big office. I cannot help thinking of another Marx, disenchanted with the academy, hounded across the English channel and living in London as his children died from illnesses that he lacked the money to treat.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Docile Bodies

Maddie is not a docile body.

The project for next week is to recognize the sight words: "I," "the", "and".

I thought I'd give Maddie a head start. We tried to practice. I held up a flashcard with the first word on it. This is I, I said to Maddie. Now you say it. Maddie was silent. The next word is the. Maddie, look at the word and say it. Maddie started to smoulder, but still she said nothing. The last word is and, I said, as I held up the flashcard.

In a burst of anger Maddie screamed out:


Hey, how come you are using the letters from MY name for your words? That makes me angry!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Flunking Kindergarten

I didn't think it was possible, but, apparently, you can flunk kindergarten--or at least be in very serious trouble all the time. Maddie has been in kindergarten for 3 hours a day for just about 3 weeks and already I get the strangest notes in her book bag. The notes are from the teacher and are usually about some sort of shortcoming of Maddie's. The first day the teacher wanted me to watch her run because she was sure Maddie was favoring one leg. Okay. We watched her and it looked like Maddie was running just like all the other kids. The teacher chuckled and moved on.

The next note was about rhyming trouble. I am familiar with the study. I know that it is believed that children who are good at rhyming are also good readers. (I have to check out this study more closely, but who has time?) I don't think this means that you must be a top-notch rhymer before you can learn to read. My thinking is at obvious odds with the experts. The teacher pulled me aside when I picked up Maddie one day last week, concerned that Maddie is an "inconsistent rhymer." I will admit, the teacher is right. Maddie can rhyme, but she is rather nonchalant about it. If you ask her what rhymes with bee, she will say tree. But then she will also say, hey, soft and drink, that rhymes. Of course, she is confusing words that are associated with one another with words that rhyme. But tell me, where is the fire?

The last note read: Urgent, Maddie is struggling with the letter d and t sound. I assume this means that the sound of the letters d and t sound similar to Maddie and she is confusing them. I think the sounds of the letters d and t are similar--and in some words--like city--you could confuse them, depending on how they are pronounced. And then it said practice! practice! practice! That last part really annoyed me.

The instructions for the letter sound exercise are fairly complicated for someone who is five. Color all the pictures that begin with the t sound red. Color all other pictures orange.
Some of the images are pretty ambiguous for people with limited experience. How do you distinguish between a pot and a pan? How do you know that a bad illustration of a wishbone is supposed to indicate the word wish, when you are only five?

I tried to help Maddie. On the t and d worksheet, I pointed to the picture of a tack. Maddie, I said, do you know what this is a picture of? A needle, she asked? I guess that that's why that one was colored orange, but it was wrong, nonetheless. Do the other kids have trouble? I asked Maddie. No, Maddie said sadly, only me.

The last worksheet was on the US Constitution. I just want to know, what happened to kindergarten? When I was little, we colored, painted, and played house.

Does anyone have a slightly used phonics kit?

September must be harass the single mothers month at the elementary school--at least it feels that way.