Friday, January 8, 2010

Unpronounced

Today I had special ed. The 1st period class was reading The Secret Life of Bees.

The five students and I sat around a table. One student read until he felt like he read enough (about three paragraphs), and then the next student would read. Once she read as far as she felt like reading, she passed it on to the girl next to her. And so on.

Being a special ed. class, the students stumbled over words. They made a mess pronouncing some words that I didn't expect. But they asked for clarification when we hit words they didn't understand (I explained what the author meant by "pulpit voice" for example). And they tried to pronounce every word, even if they struggled.

Well, almost every word.

Being set in 1964 in the South, a certain racial epithet appeared more than once. And every student skipped it.

I didn't object. I wouldn't want to say that word either.

Usually, in that situation, one or two students would read the word as it is part of the text. But not this time. They all seemed offended by it. They weren't going anywhere near it.

We made decent progress in the book. And I didn't have to fight them once we got started. That's what I consider a pretty good class.

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