Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "To Know Without the Intellect"

This poem is spillover from the April 2, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] redsixwing, [personal profile] eseme, [personal profile] alatefeline, [personal profile] siliconshaman, and [personal profile] erulisse. It also fills the "sensory mode" square in my 4-1-19 card for the School Days Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] fuzzyred and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to An Army of One series.


"To Know Without the Intellect"


The family corridor was
all living quarters, so Darmid
had commandeered several rooms
in the nearest corridor with function space
and turned those into a little school.

One was for the youngest children,
one for the older children, one
for the teens, one for everyone
together, and the last one
office and storage space.

Fara's oldest son Tavo
had proven adept with
the modular furniture that
they brought from Bunding.

He assembled furniture for
the youngest children from
plastic blocks, and then for
the older children and teens
from colorful pieces of metal.

Some things were fairly simple
to teach, like the airlock protocols.

Others got more complicated,
because the students ranged from
toddlers to teens, and most of them
were some flavor of neurovariant, and
not all of their needs were compatible.

Fara's youngest son Noru was
touch-dominant and always wanted
to feel people, which bothered Bexley
and some of the other students.

His older sister Zeri was
hearing-dominant with
a tendency to eavesdrop,
and Tavo was sight-dominant
to the point of staring at everyone.

Then came Saff and Rube, a pair
of girl-boy twins who did badly in
the usual schools because Saff
learned by tasting and Rube by
smelling, so their parents had
eventually moved to the Lacuna
in hopes of better education.

So they both lagged in
almost everything, while
Bexley was years ahead of
everyone else in anything
to do with starships but
behind on social skills.

Leor had been so distracted
by gender issues that they were
behind in some areas too, but
ahead where they had studied
favorite subjects in private.

Embry, Mair, and Tyson
were more or less on target
but easily set off by the antics
of the other students.

Darmid did the best
he could to balance
everyone's needs,
but it wasn't easy.

He tried working with
students in age clusters, or
in the case of Fara's children,
a family group instead.

Others he taught alone
sometimes, such as Bexley
when she was on the station.

They still tripped over each other.

"I am running out of ideas,"
Darmid admitted to Pi over drinks.
"It's the senses -- they keep bothering
each other, and I don't know what to do."

"Have you tried focusing classes on
different sensory modes?" Pi asked.
"If you do a class with talking, it'll attract
the listeners, and others can either skip it
or work just on their listening skills. Same
with all the other senses, and if you rotate,
everyone will get some time in their best one."

"What about the incompatibility issues?"
Darmid said. "They pester each other."

"Self-sorting may relieve some of that
as they choose different class sessions.
Some will probably fade as they get
enough stimulation from the lessons,"
Pi said. "What's left, you can probably
handle by seating incompatible kids
away from each other and teaching
them how to respect boundaries."

"That could work," Darmid said. "Thanks,
Pi, I think you have just saved my job!"

"That's what I'm here for," Pi said.
"But Darmid? Nobody else wants
your job. Nobody else could do it."

Darmid decided to start with a class
that would use taste and smell, since
Saff and Rube were the worst served
by the more conventional methods.

He chose geometry for a topic,
because it was easy to work with
and adapted well to different levels
of student skills and experience.

Then he borrowed a kitchen
and showed the students how
to mix a batch of cookie dough.

He talked about the smell of vanilla,
and how to make chocolate cookies
by adding some cocoa powder.

He let everyone taste the dough,
which was perfectly safe with a recipe
that used powdered eggs, and talked
about the taste and texture of it.

Darmid brought out a set of
cookie cutters in eight shapes,
each with three sizes of cutter.

The children got to help cut out
and bake two batches of cookies,
one vanilla and one chocolate,
which turned out beautifully.

Saff and Rube got excited
because the taste and smell
of the cookies related to
their best learning modes.

The little kids got excited
because there were cookies.

Darmid named all the shapes and
encouraged Embry, Mair, and Noru
to match large ones to small ones
or recite the names back to him.

He had Tyson and Zeri count
the sides and showed them how
to use icing to attach cookies.
Then he let them build structures
to see which shapes worked best.

He gave Saff and Rube the task
of measuring the sides to calculate
the perimeter and area of each cookie.

He gave Leor the more challenging job
of figuring out how much icing would
be needed to cover the cookies --
using the twins' data, so that Leor
had to help the Saff and Rube when
they got stuck or made a mistake.

Bexley, of course, was already
doing geometry and other math
for Cruiser Falconwing P42,
and studying astronomy too.

For her, Darmid consulted with
Falconwing about her current studies
and used round cookies to create
a spacescape for which Bexley
had to measure the parallax
and then pipe the answers
on the cookies with icing.

By the end of the lesson,
everyone had learned
something, and nobody
had had a meltdown, so
Darmid declared it a success.

"How did you get it to work?"
Dono said. "We were starting
to despair of educating Noru,
and the others needed help too."

"At a certain point we are
overwhelmed by a yearning
for life," Darmid said. "We feel
a desire to know without the intellect,
to meditate with only our senses,
to think in a tactile or sensory mode,
from inside the object of our thought,
as if it were a sponge and we were water.”

"I'm not sure I understand how you get
from that to the lesson," Dono said.

"Really all I did was let the world
teach them, while I got out of
the way," Darmid said.

From then on, education in
the Lacuna tended to distinguish
classes based on sensory mode
or learning style more than content.

Interested students would show up
and explore new things together,
sometimes getting ahead in
their best areas and other times
shoring up their weaknesses.

They drew their lessons from
ordinary tools and techniques
to solve challenges relevant
to everyday life on the station.

It succeeded in teaching
the children, and helped them
get along with competing needs.

Everyone did their best to deal
with the challenges, because
that was life in the Lacuna.

Besides, there were cookies.

* * *

Notes:

Darmid -- a neurotypical man. He is married to Verena, a pilot. They have a three-year-old daughter, Mair (probably neurotypical) and a four-year-old son Tyson (neurovariant with ADHD). Darmid is currently a teacher, and also has a background in emergency work. He moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution of his family on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Dono -- a middle-aged man with dyslexia. His platonic lifepartner is Fara, a woman with dyscalculia. He does the math, she does the reading, and together they lead a ragtag group of neurodiverse refugees to the Lacuna. Dono is short and wiry with dark curls, while Fara is tall and sturdy with shoulder-length blonde hair.

Fara -- a middle-aged woman with dyscalculia. Her platonic lifepartner is Dono, a man with dyslexia. She does the reading, he does the math, and together they lead a ragtag group of neurodiverse refugees to the Lacuna. Fara is tall and sturdy with shoulder-length blonde hair, while Dono is short and wiry with dark curls. She has three children from a previous relationship, ages three, six, and nine.

Pi -- a neurovariant man with dyspraxia. It makes him wobbly on his feet, and also affects his thought patterns, the chaotic leaps giving him insights beyond the ordinary. Pi has no regular job, but is a free-range problem-solver. He moved to the Lacuna from Epizygis due to persecution. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Embry -- she is a neurovariant toddler, daughter of Armelle and Bottleneck. She came with her mother from Cascabel to Sargasso Base. Introduced in "New Wine in Old Bottles."

Mair -- a three-year-old girl, probably neurotypical. She is the daughter of Verena and Darmid, younger sister of Tyson (neurovariant with ADHD). Her family moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Noru -- a three-year-old boy, touch-dominant and probably neurovariant. He has straight blond hair and blue eyes. He is the son of Fara (from a previous marriage) and Dono (by cohabitation), younger brother of Tavo and Zeri. They moved to the Lacuna from the Carinan refugee planet Bunding. He wants to touch everything and everyone, a habit that annoyed his preschool teachers and often got him in trouble.

Tyson -- a four-year-old boy, (neurovariant with ADHD). He is the son of Verena and Darmid, older brother of Mair (probably neurotypical). His family moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Zeri -- a six-year old girl, hearing-dominant and probably neurotypical. She has wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She is the daughter of Fara (from a previous marriage) and Dono (by cohabitation), younger sister of and and older sister of Noru. They moved to the Lacuna from the Carinan refugee planet Bunding. Zeri has done pretty well in school, but is intrigued to try new things here. She listens to everything, though, and the eavesdropping annoys people.

Saff -- an eight-year-old girl, the older twin sister of Rube. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. She is taste-dominant and has difficulty learning in a classroom where everything is presented through audiovisual means. Their parents moved around the Orion Arm before reaching the Lacuna in hopes of finding a school that could accommodate the twins' educational needs.

Rube -- an eight-year-old boy, the younger twin brother of Saff. He has red hair and sherry-brown eyes. He is scent-dominant and has difficulty learning in a classroom where everything is presented through audiovisual means. Their parents moved around the Orion Arm before reaching the Lacuna in hopes of finding a school that could accommodate the twins' educational needs.

Tavo -- a nine-year-old boy, sight-dominant, probably neurotypical. He has straight hair of dark blond and hazel eyes. He is the son of Fara (from a previous marriage) and Dono (by cohabitation), older brother of Noru and Zeri. They moved to the Lacuna from the Carinan refugee planet Bunding. Tavo has done well in school and misses his old one. He stares at people, though, and looks into things that people wish he wouldn't, which sometimes causes problems.

Bexley -- a neurovariant girl of thirteen, who runs away with Cruiser Falconwing P42. She is introduced in "The Love We Give Our Fragile Craft" and "No Measure of Health."

Leor -- a Jewish teen who moves to the Lacuna with their family for the sake of gaining other-gendered paperwork. Leor is agender, asexual, and aromantic. They want a B'nai Mitzvah, but their rabbi only offered Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah as options. So they're hoping for something better here. Introduced in "Knitting at the Ready."

* * *

At a certain point we are overwhelmed by a yearning for life, by a desire to know without the intellect, to meditate with only our senses, to think in a tactile or sensory mode, from inside the object of our thought, as if it were a sponge and we were water.”
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Modular furniture brought by Dono and Fara includes some big plastic bricks.

Multisensory education spreads learning across different senses and learning styles. Identify your learning style. Explore some techniques of multisensory learning.

There are many types of neurodiversity.

This set of geometric cookie cutters includes three sizes of eight different shapes.

Food storage is important for locations where fresh food cannot easily be produced or shipped. Powdered milk, powdered butter, and powdered eggs allow cooks to make many recipes such as Busia's Cutout Cookies.

Montessori sensory education includes visual, tactile, baric, thermic, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and stereognotic lessons.

Geometry lessons should develop over time. Consider identifying shapes (ages 5-6), identifying and drawing shapes (ages 7-10), solving circle problems (age 12), triangle proofs (ages 14-16), and technology in geometry (ages 18+).

Geometry for pilots includes various types of math. Here are some assorted lessons in flight geometry (ages 13-15).

Geometry for astronomers includes things like calculating Earth-Sun distance (ages 14-18).

Building cookie structures is just one of many construction lessons.

Sensory meltdowns can make life challenging. Suppressing emotions can lead to burnout, prolonged adaptation stress syndrome, and other problems. Instead, understand why meltdowns happen and how to prevent them. Know how to help a child or adult through a meltdown, and cope with your own.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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