Metacognition

I know I’m not the only person to have found phonics a colossal waste of time. I think I was the only one in my third grade class to have worked ahead up to the end of the sixth grade syllabus, though, after which I was permitted to ignore the subject for several glorious years. Phonics bored and confused me–not the performance of the exercises, in which I excelled, but the whole subject itself. It seemed to me, at the time, to be about breaking up language into pieces small enough that they no longer had meaning. It wasn’t like derivations, which led you back through history to stranger and older words; it was only about sounds, grunting inelegant sounds without meanings of their own. I did not discover until well into adulthood that phonics was actually considered a mode of teaching reading. Why on earth would a person read by making sounds? Reading was much simpler than that, to me: the word wasn’t a picture of a sound, it was a picture of a concept (and since I’d been doing it since before I started school, I had never thought about reading as a thing that needed to be […]

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Hops-day: 23 Fructidor

Reading a whole slew of science fiction this summer, including many titles I wouldn’t have sought out for myself. A few are Community recommendations, and the rest are the informal syllabus for my upcoming writing workshop. I tend to read in patterns, usually by what feels like coincidence; for a month last year it was Tam Lin stories, and for the moment, it’s military coming-of-age stories featuring guys with excellent brains and more than their fair share of good luck. Would I notice these protagonists had been oversupplied with luck if I hadn’t read all of these books in short order? Yes. It’s a pet peeve, in fact. Things coming too easy, answers arriving in flashes of insight or coincidental conjunctions, tend to jar my suspension of disbelief. I can only be won back through a great deal of compensatory hardship for the protagonist. On examination, though, I find I have no grounds for finding this ease unbelievable. I possess, after all, the type of brain that makes connections without showing its work. Many of my good ideas feel as if they’ve arrived in my brain straight from the gods. It shouldn’t be a stretch for me to believe the […]

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New Year

Being the child of a teacher, and a long-time student, I have never yet shaken a feeling that September marks the turning of the year. Not January, not my birthday, nor any of the old holy days. To mark the turning, this year, I’m beginning this blog. My previous blog has now been deleted. It was a strange exercise: completely private in its way, because I never shared my username or URL with anyone, but the possibility of its becoming public ensured that I would do my best to make the entries coherent and relatively polished. At least that was the theory. The illusion of privacy was comforting, on the one hand, allowing me almost as much freedom as I have in my personal journals (those handwritten notebooks I’ve been keeping since I was thirteen or so: twenty of them now, at least, all stuffed in my filing cabinet). On the other hand, I found myself constrained by it: I could not use my blog ID to post anything more public without worrying that I would attract traffic to my blog and wreck its precious solitude. So: apparently the world grows smaller every day, or I grow bigger within it, […]

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