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A first grade student informed me that his mom watches “so poppers.”
I was afraid I didn’t hear him clearly, so I asked him to repeat himself.
“So Poppers.”
Nope. Maybe he needed to say it louder…
“So Poppers.”
I still didn’t understand. (As I sit here writing the words, it seems very obvious, and you’re probably reading this and wondering how I could be so dense…Well let me tell you, I can be very dense sometimes, I admit it.) So I asked him clarifying questions…nothing. Eventually I had to just smile and nod, feeling a little like an idiot.

Days passed (yes, days) and suddenly it hit me that his mom watches soap operas.
Soap Operas.

My convictions about reading were renewed as I was reminded that language can so easily sound just like noise. Sometimes it’s a noise you understand, but on occasion it’s a noise that’s incomprehensible, like the voice of an adult in a Charlie Brown show.

For me, the experience epitomized the inexorable connection between language and the written word. His mom said “Soap Operas,” but he heard something different. He never read the words “Soap Operas” or saw anything in writing; the communication was completely oral, and he passed on what he thought he heard. Like playing the game telephone. Had he seen the words on paper, he might have understood what he was hearing and passed on Soap Operas.

And I, in turn, could have smiled at him and said “Mine does, too!”

Posted in School Life.

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