Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thought for the day

Archer is in the Pinnacle gifted & talented program at his school, and each week during their two-and-a-half hour session, the GT teacher gives the students a thought or quotation. They write it down in their notebooks, and then write down what they think it means.

That second part has been giving Archer trouble. Drawing inferences is exactly what's hard for him. He understands the words well enough -- even the literal meaning of the sentence -- but making the lateral move to interpret a proverb or elaborate on a pithy chiasm stumps him.

For example, the thought for November 4, 2009 was: "One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men, and zero machines can do the work of one extraordinary man." Archer explained that as follows: "A machine can do 50 short pieces of work at once, but it can't do 1 long piece of work."

The teacher grades their interpretations, and Archer consistently gets one and a half out of a possible four points. You can see him trying to improve by elaborating on his answer in his November 18 try. The thought was "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. -- Aristotle." Archer wrote: "Excellence is not acting something repeatedly in the future -- excellence would be having a habit repeatedly. To show that excellence is a habit, we are what we repeatedly do."

But this week I actually think he grasped the thought -- although he characteristically expresses it through his numerical obsession. For January 6, 2010, the quote was: "Our enemy is mediocrity."

Archer explained: "I think it means that when you're trying for an A or B, watch out for mediocre grades such as C or D. Watch out for 50% test result! The medium percentage (50%) is the worst grade (F)."


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