Doubts and Electric Eye

September 16, 2016

Robert and I continue to study almost every day but I write about teaching Robert much less than I did previously.  I have  doubts about practical aspects of the  knowledge Robert is gaining. I have always had them. But as Robert is getting older  those doubts  multiply and diminish my belief that knowledge and understanding improve quality of life even when they do not translate into practical tools.  Although I can still teach Robert,  it is much harder to write about tangible effects of our daily sessions as they seem not to address severe deficits impeding Robert’s life.

Should we spend time on Roman Numerals when Robert still doesn’t know how to set a correct water temperature for his bath or his shower?  Should we keep increasing his vocabulary to the fourth  grade level when Robert’s ability to communicate is that of 4 years old child?

Just yesterday, I found some validation for our hours of learning and teaching.  For the last two weeks, Robert and I spent an hour or more a day reading texts from Horizon Reading to Learn about a boy who, with the encouragement and support from his grandmother, invented a light saver.  I was very tempted to skip the 10 or so rather difficult texts dealing with ” electric eyes, beams, counters, patents, patent attorneys, manufacturers, legal agreements and so on.  I though that even explanation of how electric eye work and what happens when the beam is blocked were abstract enough to validate the decision to skip those texts.   Still, I went on. Well, we went on. We found out that one electric eye would not do the trick when two people get into the room as the blocked beam would turn the life off.  We found out that it is important for the device to recognize if the people come in or out of the room.  We learned that the contraption has to count how many people entered and left the room to avoid leaving some of the people in the darkness. For a few days, Robert was reading the story and analyzing the drawings of the electric eyes and beams stretching across the doorway counting how many people entered and how many people exited the room. He used that information to decide if the lights in the room were on or off.

Although I was skeptical about the value of those difficult texts, Robert insisted on reading.  So we read.

It was this morning, however, when our decision to continue reading and learning was vindicated.  I asked Robert to turn off TV.  He couldn’t.  His fingers obstructed the beam going from the remote to the TV set.  Many times before I had tried to change the position of his fingers, but it had never worked.  Today, however, I showed Robert “the electric eye”  in the remote and a little “eye” below the TV screen.  I explained as well as Grandmother Esther would explain it to Leonard that he should aim the remote at the target on the TV set and keep his fingers from covering the “electric eye” in the front of remote.  Robert got it!!!   With some difficulties, he repositioned his fingers and turned the TV off.

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1 Comment

  1. Jean Palmateer

     /  September 17, 2016

    Immediate affirmation of comprehension – and value for Robert.


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