Friday, October 19, 2007

Secret of the wild child

Secret of the wild child 10th August, 2006
I did some background reading on Genie, at "Secret of the Wild Child"
And I have to say (as a parent of a five year old now) that I am quite appalled at what happened to the poor little girl, not only at her parents, but also by the people who were supposedly helping her. It is quite tragic. I wonder where the line can be drawn between science and humanity...
An interesting thing that occurred to me as I was reading the interview was, why they decided to teach her sign language? Was it that they thought that sign language would give her more opportunities to communicate, a different way to produce language? I am not really sure.
I also started thinking about the difference between input and output. Possibly, many of these scientists were judging her knowledge of language by how much she was ‘producing’...If so, I think that they are only getting half the picture. I often notice the difference between how much I can understand, as opposed to how much I can say in my L2. Poor little Genie may have only got to the stage of being able to produce one, two or three word sentences, but how much was she able to understand? ...And how can we measure the amount of progress in her listening capabilities? I guess, by sticking brain wave probes onto the poor little girl’s head. Science or Humanity? Seriously, I wonder in what ways can we as teachers judge our student’s receptive capabilities, without just making qualitative judgments?
Steven Mondy

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