Social Pragmatics and the tone (the attitude ) of a sentence is frequently a mystery to student who are on the autism scale. Was speaking to a young teacher who was working with children on the this spectrum. We discussed the challenges of teaching them to comprehend “the tone” of a sentence, identifying whether the string of words were spoken in a sarcastic, patronizing, a questioning or hostile way. Had an “aha”moment when I connected using notes on a piano to simulate the pace, inflection, and pitch of each word in a sentence. Since music is left brained, I wondered if it would support spectrum kids to “get” the meaning in that way. There is a chapter on Tone in the Book Cognitive Yoga. What do you think? Would this work?
What skills will remain valid for the next generation?
What skills will remain valid for the next generation?At the rate of knowledge expansion and technological advances, if we went to sleep for 5 years and suddenly woke up, our day would be a challenge. Technologies, sciences, trends are mutating so rapidly that what we know how to do will be obsolete progressively at a more accelerated rate. However, the mind- body set up, our character and our social- emotional skills will continue to serve us well. Skills that will sustain students have more to do with character than facts. That’s why Social Emotional Learning must become a part of curriculum.
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Cognitive Yoga will be published on February 15th, 2014, available through Amazon. Cognitive Yoga is packed with useful strategies for any teacher, coach or counselor who works with groups of young adults. It supports teachers who have to transform, bored, bewildered, angry kids into curious, industrious, collaborative students who are invested in their own achievement. Cognitive Yoga draws from the ancient tradition of Advaita Vedanta but brings immediate value to our understanding of the neuroscience of learning, emotional intelligence, and mind/body health. My apologies to anyone who has tried to buy it before – just another glitch. [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
When you acknowledge a child by your present awareness of her or her particular bundle of energy, you are stepping out of the role of teacher to be human beings together.
“See me, recognize me as a special individual”, the child seems to say.
It is then that you can, if you are not standing in ego, see the power of their chakti (energetic center) and the bhavana ( The heart’s intention, what is manifesting) in the consciousness of that being which is an expression of the universal. Authentic means real and real means transcendent of the current role of teacher or student. That moment is the most precious and powerful acknowledgement, a bow to the light within them. It is more potent than any lesson you may teach.
This particular exercise was suggested by Dr. Susan Stillman of Six Seconds. Its usefulness is apparent and the lesson is fairly easy to execute although it requires at least 30 minutes doing a complete round.
The objective of the lesson is to have students observe the dynamics of communication. It contains elements of body language, emotional charge, word choice, tone, pace, inflection, the speaker’s perception and so on. It is a much evolved skill to listen cleanly and objectively.
Tell the class that they are going to doing a “Listening Mirrors “exercise – trying to be a Mirrors or video recording to the students speaking. They are to listen without interrupting the description from student designated as speakers and they need to observe and copy every detail of tone of voice, posture, and pace of words, word choice and emotional intensity. Then divide the class into teams of three students each by counting off: one, two, and three… and so on. In the first round, the students counted as ONE’s speak, TWOs listen, and the THREEs observe for accuracy. Then switch until each has had a turn at the different roles.
Ask the class to think about an event that made them very sad, angry or frustrated. Let the group process and visualize that moment in time for a minute or two. Then give time about 2 minutes for the Speakers to tell their story, 2 minutes for the Listeners to repeat the story, and lastly have the observers give feedback to on the accuracy of the repetition.
Because this lesson can get rather noisy you may want to send kids into corners, or the hallways to do it. Have the observers keep track of the time. Each complete set might be about 12 minutes- moving rather quickly. When the class has regrouped, have one member from each team – share out what they learned, heard or observed… Try to draw some conclusions or principles such as,
“It is important to _____” not change the words”
The tone of voice makes a difference.
An extension of this practice might be that – when a student is not explaining the story well and/or the repetition is not accurate – the observer asks a question to the speaker and or coaches the partners… to clarify the intent, meaning and intensity.
How “mindfulness” improves orientation
The pause practice, the stop exercise or a moment of REST at the beginning of a task provides a way to settle the nervous system, sets up orientation to time, place and offers mental clarity before the anticipated activity. When a student has a chance to clean the mental white board, it is an opportunity to dissolve residual tensions or attachments from the prior activity and simultaneously grounds the student in the here and now. During the STOP the body is used as an anchor for awareness and then students expands that awareness to include the play of air on the face, their weight in the chair, listening out into the room, including the group or any other sounds. This gives students a much needed and often welcomed respite. With the stop Exercise – there is a cessation of all social and cognitive demands – it is just REST. Mindfulness: encourages student to be awake to their current task and situation with a one or two minute pause at the beginning of a class. A sharply delineated end to that and a beginning to this gathers the fullness of potential energy and points it to now.
From time to time we need to encourage ourselves with an appropriate quote or aphorism that addresses our particular challenge. This exercise is named “Illumination”. Have the kids pick a quote that is meaningful to them, something that gets the juices flowing. It should be quote or saying that is the first thing they see in the morning and sets the tone for the day. It needs to be a worthwhile goal not just a popular idiom. When I was in graduate school the first thing I chose to see was a poster that said CAN DO! I know that is less than elegant but it did provide a little juice for the day. Instruct your students to locate a quote, aphorism or homily that addresses something they find a challenge, a saying that will give them some strength. Then on the finest paper available, with their most elegant calligraphy have them copy the quote with the intention to post it where they see it often.
Mindfullness, good manners and civility have something in common. These principles all share the goal of awareness of others and then making an effort to anticipate what they need . Civil behavior assumes that other people are worthwhile and worthy of respect This courtesy is extended one on one. Here’s a few ideas
Give a break to a mother with a cranky child by letting her ahead of you in the grocery line
Notice if someone needs a tissue or a glass of water in a meeting
Put your trash in the barrel in public places
Don’t drive while using the cell phone
Don’t use a cell phone in a public place where others can hear your conversation
Dress appropriately for the occasion
Allow an elderly person to go first or offer a hand to steady a step.
Be patient with a child that does not do things as quickly as you wish
The wakefulllness required is not about using the right fork but rather the practice of graciousness and consideration to make everyone feel welcome in our shared world.