What’s Wrong With This Picture

Everyday for the last few weeks we took a page from “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” workbook.  Robert had to point to all the  weird things in the picture and comment on it. The picture for today presented a cowboy on a six legged horse.  The horse’s tail was tied up around saguaro cactus.  The cowboy was chasing a small pig with huge horns.

Robert supposed to find those three anomalies.  First, he pointed his finger at the pig with horns. He wasn’t sure what to say. . So I fed answers to him.  “This pig has horns.  Pigs don’t have horns.”  As simple as possible.  Of course I was tempted to offer a better model, “Pigs not supposed to have horns”  but decided that I would skip the phrase, “supposed to” for the sake  of preparing Robert to utter  independent comments in the future . ( Although in the past, while introducing  inferences I used this phrase it was only to “try and see if it is workable”  It wasn’t.) The  goal I set for workbook “What’s Wrong”  was to  elicit at some point in the future  “spontaneous” (without any prompting) comment of the simplest form

Next, Robert touched the horse’s tail and  said “tail”.  I had an impression that he was aiming for the next word “tied” . If he was, then something stopped him.  Probably two similarly sounding words  confused him.  After so many years of difficulties with talking,  Robert become very insecure and overly careful with speech.

I should just praise him for this one, appropriate word.  I should say, “You are right.  The tail is tied up to the cactus.”  That would be the best response given my goals.  But then I couldn’t help myself.  I HAD TO TEACH!  So instead of rewarding Robert’s step toward self regulating speech I had to punish him with corrections and additional prompting to make him say what I wanted him to say. “The horse is tied up by his tail to the Saguaro cactus”. Too long for Robert, too confusing!  But the most damaging thing is that I imposed my speech over his.  I didn’t facilitate his speech.  I suffocated it.

I did that because I forgot how dangerous teachers can be when their ego gets into play.

Well, there was one more wrong thing with the picture.  The horse had six legs.  Robert didn’t notice.  So I pointed the horse to him and said what I would like him to say, ” Look, this horse has SIX!!!! legs. SIX!”  By being overly excited I tried to erase that ” bad teacher” out of me.

I did not.   But I  will have another chance tomorrow.