20 Mar 2017
- By Jaime Vergara
THIS baby can speak! says Dr. John B. Joyner on the front cover of his “A bilingual developmental guide in Chinese and English,” originally a part of the Partners in Language guide series of the American Speech and Hearing Association, with the new edition translated by Angela Hui, and packaged for publication by author Walt F. J. Goodridge.
The book is “cute,” from the size of the pamphlet to the bold letters and color illustrations. It furthers a child’s language development, in this case, those in the Chinese community who are bridging the spectrum between a primary language and the English one that they now speak. Most travel with the bluebook of the U.S. government, or the red book of the Philippine government, both of which are based on the English tongue that the Brits, Welsh, Scots, Normans and Americans historically developed and shared with the world.
LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN. Appropriate for learning a phonetic language where hearing sounds precedes the reading and writing of letters, the art and discipline of listening is primary. Sinosphere language eventually redounds to the Hanzi characters (modified in Korean and Japanese) as the European languages veer to the Graeco-Roman alphabet but the hearing of sounds is fundamental.
EACH CHILD IS UNIQUE! This has been brooded at the edges of Western civilization but the requirements of fitting into socially stratified society made educators focus on types and categories first before recognizing uniqueness, and do so with descriptions like “genius” and “exemplary” above others, focusing on the exception rather than the rule.
This was understandable. It used to be that the metaphor used in human discourse was the experience of looking up to the skies. The name of our days still reflects a Graeco-Roman choice of a Sun-day, Moon-day, Mars-day, Mercury-day, Jupiter-day, Venus-day, and Saturn-day. Our Zodiac is premised on the Sun’s relationship to the constellation of the “stars” though made Earth-friendly with names of animals when named and grouped together as Leo (Lion) and Pisces (Fish), along with the other names.
Our management of time harkens back to the Egyptian relationship to Ra, the Sun god, as the emperor basked on the rays of the sun up the pyramids by the Nile, and Zeus (Deux in Latin, and Yu’us in Chamorro) presided over Gods at Mt. Olympus. An eastern counterpart, differently understood, is the Mandate of Heaven, married to the balancing and harmonizing thrust of the circle of opposites contained in the yin-yang.
This skyward looking, long defied by science for 500 years but insisted as the discourse in common metaphors, got affirmed in the picture taken from the lunarscape of the earthrise in 1968. The image ushered a “paradigm” shift (popularized in Science by physicist-writer Thomas Kuhn with a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumption) from the elaborate images of a world “up there,” to the reality and authenticity down in the “here-and-now.”
Dr. Joyner’s unequivocal emphasis on the child being unique recognizes the reality that no two human beings are alike. To be sure, we all share DNA out of West Africa that permeates the globe, 97 percent of which are said to be similar, but the 3 percent percent spells a lot of a difference. The sperm-and-egg formation of a zygote makes everyone a WINNER of a 1-on-200-million (minimum) odds (beats the casino any day!), and the freedom to choose which “tadpole” gets to fertilize the egg. At conception, a child is already FREE to choose. In tandem, the zygote CREATES 10-12 body structures that handle the circulation of blood, skeletal-muscular frame frames, the respiration of carbon and oxygen, the digestion of food, the massive network of nerves, and the like.
The earthrise no longer looks up skyward to depend on “expert’s” gazing on their navels, but invites us to look down on Earth and realize what the major paradigm shift has been, and every human journeys in a pathway of GROWTH, participating in that process with the ability to decide at every turn.
The virtue of starting everything from the senses, is to recognize that learning naturally happens when we focus on it first: the eyes to see, the nose to smell, the ears to hear, the tongue to taste, the skin to touch. There are other descriptions on the five, along with complexities of a function (nasal has been used to combine smell and taste), but the list is meant to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
The teacher guides a child’s learning and responds in kind, plus. The teacher affirms the senses on experience, and shows “feelings” of affirmation and approval of a child’s exhibited responses and behavior, even when the child learns to say, No!
Senses described are confirmed, feelings expressed are affirmed, thoughts articulated are comprehended, and deeds enacted are deemed effective. Dr. Joyner, Ms. Lui and Mr. Goodridge mapped this terrain for the child very well.
Grab a copy of the book. It is worth all the GWs in Mama’s purse.
Opinions expressed by Marianas Variety contributors are their own.