Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bloody Sunday


I love Sunday mornings.

I think it is my favorite day of the week.

Just Sunday morning.

(Dinah Washington Sunday Morning,

not Etta James Sunday morning).

I have not been blogging because I have just had a house dropped on my head. This summer is my formal but unorganized introduction to applied linguistics. So far I have gone through 3 weeks of graduate school, which has been great in terms of meeting people with similar experiences as me. The number of world travellers in my classes is comforting, and so is that collective and uneasy culture shock that lingers with us from 6 years in Thailand, 9 months in Brazil, or a brief love affair in Japan after finishing up university in Hong Kong. We all seem to have itchy feet.

The feat of applying certain linguistic concepts (These concepts are not really related to the type of stuff I did 14 years ago with cultural theorists, it is more concerned with function. It is the end product of a certain pedagogical analysis that looks at both the surface structures and deep structures found in learning a sequence of patterns.) is far harder than actually learning it. The majority of my students are Spanish speakers, and so are the majority of bilingual instructors in the program. I believe I am the only fluent German speaker, but I feel that my Deutsch skills are waning as time goes by. I speak fine, but my ability to use more cognitive skills in translating a text or reading academic writing (always hard in German) seems to be seeping into the Hudson.

After certification, the age of my possible students may range from five to 20, and many may never have had a formal education. This basically means that they have never sat at a desk all day in their entire lives, nor have they received information in such a manner. On top of that, their intelligence may lie elsewhere, which reminds me of the kids form Appalachia in my first grade class who could tell you the name of trees and birds as if they were reading a book printed on the blue sky. Or friends of mine who can make music with the ease and solace of a confectionerie's solitary mistress mixing and rolling truffles with a sticky right hand.

So, needless to say, the field work that I have been participating in has been interesting. I am just afraid that my artistic endeavours are suffering because I am starting to break down language and codes into very basic parts. The social problems of signs and signifiers is a subject that comprised the majority of my Infamous University experience; but studying it as a set of required verbal exercises and orthographic markings meant for providing all the neccesities of life to my young students make me feel as if I have walked into the ritual of language. I am working with the most basic of human instincts, which is to communicate -- I am learning to relate to the human experience, not as a full grown man, but from the eyes of a child. To apply theory in this way is rounding out my world and pushing my own intellect into other dimensions. Salt of the Earth. Soil. Tiling. Chocolate Ding Dongs. Hall Passes. Bells. Factor Trees. Crips. Bloods. Flagging. Testing. Testing. And More Testing.