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Morning Sun
  • Okie in Exile - Learning by immersion

  • I mentioned earlier this summer that I was trying to learn Spanish by using Rosetta Stone.

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  • I mentioned earlier this summer that I was trying to learn Spanish by using Rosetta Stone. While I can’t speak Spanish yet, it has created a couple of hours a day of alone time with me, the computer, and a lot of time to think between listening and repeating Spanish sentences interspersed with English curse words.
    The English curse words come because I’ve rediscovered my stutter.
    I’ve had a small stutter all my life that’s never really been a problem and has become less of one as time as passed, but it comes back when I try to repeat a Spanish sentence that’s just been told me.
     This doesn’t happen when I read the sentence.  When I read, it just flows out of me--relatively speaking--but when I try to repeat what I’ve heard, I stutter.
    I think this is because the brain is trying to do too much.  It is trying to remember, speak, and understand all at the same time.  When I read, I don’t have to remember and I don’t have to understand always.  I just decode a word and it flows out.  If I want to learn more, I have to proactively try to slow down and take it in. When I hear, understand, and speak, it all comes naturally.
    So I am learning better when I am frustrated.  I know from reading about communication theory that communicating requires energy.
    Learning is communicating.  It is taking information from one place--outside your head--and putting it another--inside your head. I can tell myself this frustration is a measure of deeper learning.
    I’ve also noticed in the little photo vignettes they use to teach that there is a lot of body language: facial expression, hand gestures, and body attitude.  Before I go on, I want to say that I do know that not all body language is universal.  What is a sign for “OK” can get you a bullet through your brain someplace else.  That having been said, I got to thinking (that is in my native language).
    Animals talk to us.  My cats tell us when they want to eat and to go outside.  My dogs tell us when they think we are being robbed or when their territory is being encroached upon by squirrels.  But I think that there is more communication than just that.  I think when deer run from us, they are telling us they are afraid.  I think when lions attack us, they are telling us they are hungry.  I even believe that when the winds blow something is being said.
    Sometimes we are just told a word, but over the course of time the words come together into sentences, and the sentences get strung together in a story and the story hangs together.
    Page 2 of 2 - Could it be that belief in God is the same as believing that this story always hangs together?  Could it be that living a life in harmony with God is learning God’s language as he speaks to us through nature, through living life, through dealing with our fellow man?
    There is a lot of cursing between trying to repeat what we think we hear being told us even among those of us who do believe there is a God, who believe there is a language to learn, a story that’s being told, and that the story hangs together.
    The story is often sad.
    This confuses a lot of people.
    The good die before their time and the wicked prosper.
    Different people have different answers.  Some will explain away the suffering.  Some will say there is no God; there is no story.
    My opinion, which along with $2 and change at Starbucks will get you a cup of plain coffee, is that the story is not about us; it’s not about you and it’s certainly not about me.  But we are a part of the story.
    We spend our days learning the words of it through cursing and tears; singing and laughter; birth and death.  And we all stutter.
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at okieinexile@gmail.com.
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