Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Auditory Learning

This was posted in the Online facilitation course I'm currently taking. We were having a discussion about whether or not auditory learning was important.

This is very definitely an aside, but it is still about the issue of auditory or not:

Ira Socol just posted his thoughts on why Ulysses is so important in our literary tradition. For those of you who might not be fans, (you don't need to have read the whole damn thing in order to be a fan, either)next Wednesday, June 16, just after we finish this course is Bloomsday. Bloomsday is a holiday to celebrate Ulysses. All of Ulysses takes place in one day, kinda like a 24, on June 16, 1904. Ulysses was originally released as a serial.

Before I digress into Ulysses and Joyce too much, the point that Ira makes is that it is not really possible to 'read' Ulysses without saying the words outloud, reading with your lips moving, something that we try to drum out of kids.

Try to get through as much of the text from Ulysses as you can and then skip down to Ira's comments at the end. Ira has an opinion about the auditory part of reading.

By the way, and this, too, is an aside, if you look at the background of my profile picture, you can see, if you super magnify it, the Martello tower of Sandycove which is the opening scene of Ulysses and which is across Dublin Bay from where I am in the picture. I had made my pilgrimage out to Sandycove the evening before, and purposely wanted to put it in the background of this picture. If you want another stream of consciousness/auditory type of experience with an Irish flavor, you can go to my facebook videos and play a clip of the great band I heard at Pearce St Station on my way out to Sandycove.

I will also digress to my Chaucer course in grad school: I was outraged, and at 25 yrs old my outrage was barely tempered, that the prof didn't plan on reading any of Chaucer's works out loud in the class. She, the prof, was offended that I was outraged and more than a little dismissive; I think I managed to finally get a 'B' out of the course, but just barely. I distinctly remember 35 years ago being looked at like was silly or something, but I'm still outraged; I mean, how can you rationally expect to really be learning about the Canterbury Tales if you don't actually read at least out loud. I thought then that the whole thing should be read out loud, and then we could start talking about the connections to Italian poets from the 13th Cent., maybe. I think auditory learning is very important. I'm so glad that we can now link to an actual reading of the words. And I'm glad that I'm an elementary teacher and I get to read out loud everyday to my students. Roald Dahl's, The Witches is my favorite.


  1. Dan,

    Writers are storytellers first. They, post-printing press invention, take the time to write words down rather than speaking them aloud around the campfires and in the cave and lodges of our early days. Sharing your own stories and those written by brilliant children's lit writers, I think, represents more than just an "evidence-based" literacy development strategy. It also provides young people with a link to their earliest roots as a community gathered together to listen as one to their storytellers- and a chance to feel connected to each other through the power of shared story and history. I would love to listen to you read aloud- imagine you bring words to life.

  2. Dan,

    First, I love the way, in today's tech world, we can so easily build on each others' thoughts. It is indeed, as Pam above says, like the campfire. And this is what, in my mind
    connects "pre-Gutenberg" and "post-Gutenberg" - our humanity is now longer suffocated by the printing process.

    But importantly here, we damage our experience of language horribly when we insist on the full split between the spoken and the written, and we enforce a specific culture when we do that as well, and, key in my experience, we create disabilities when we do it.

    In the Anglo/American literary mainstream, "written" is not "spoken." This is true, but even in English, globally, far more English-Language-Speakers come from cultures which prize the oral, which prize the sound the feel the touch of the words more than they prize any formality of written construction (as Saxon and Norman Britain did). And when language can be transmitted orally, it allows all of those "LD" kids in as well. They often feel the words in excitingly different ways.

    The shared story is the heart of our cultures, let's not limit that experience.

    - Ira Socol

  3. The spoken and auditory is just as much a part of the language experience as the written. There is something important in hearing the words spoken. I, too, am glad to be an elementary teacher where stories are told and spoken and shared aloud.