Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November's books

#9, Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1880)

Here I do not mean the actual novel--which I did read when I was slightly older as well as saw infinite versions of the films as a young girl--but the simplified storybook I had when I was four or five. I actually learned to read with this book, which means I read this book and had the "aha!" moment when one realizes that the marks on the page represent specific words that you say. When the letters and words took on unique and individual meanings.

I had a Heidi storybook and also a recording of Heidi on vinyl (y'know, those big black things with grooves...). The "aha!" moment came when I realized that the storybook and the record had the same story--down to the punctuation--and I could follow the book outloud and thus connect the words with the sounds.  Aha!

Later, when I saw The Miracle Worker, I always thought that well scene where Helen Keller had the "aha!" moment probably had that same feeling for me in that original flash of understanding. Something that people had been telling you and that you cannot put together suddenly becomes manifest as a very real thing or action or process. The stuff in your hand is "w-a-t-e-r" and the gestures in your hand are "w-a-t-e-r" too. The sounds on the record are words and the black marks on the pages in front of you are the same words, only in writing, not sound. But writing represents/equals specific sounds and those marks/sounds stand for something real... Put all three together, and you're reading. Easy, right?

So why didn't it work that way with calculus?

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