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Awakening Children's MindsHow Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference$
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Laura E. Berk

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195124859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195124859.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

Helping Children with Deficits and Disabilities

Helping Children with Deficits and Disabilities

(p.146) Five Helping Children with Deficits and Disabilities
Awakening Children's Minds

Laura E. Berk

Oxford University Press

The movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, in its main plot and its subplot, is a thoroughly Vygotskian story. It chronicles a high-school music teacher’s metamorphosis from a detached instructor, cynical about his students’ interests and motivations, into an inspiring mentor for hundreds of young music appreciators and instrumentalists. Unable to make a living at his first love, composing, Mr. Holland turned to the professional safety net he had earned in college: his teaching credential. Reluctantly in the classroom, he drilled his students on textbook facts and conducted the school orchestra in a flat, lifeless fashion. Without a meeting of minds and a jointly constructed “zone,” teacher and students disengaged, growing further and further apart. Painfully aware of failing to “reach” his classes, Mr. Holland set aside assigned texts and musical scores one day and tried to “connect” with his students. “What kind of music do you like?” he asked. Noticing their shocked and confused expressions, he added sympathetically, “Don’t be afraid.” “Rock ‘n’ roll!” was the nearly uniform answer. Next, Mr. Holland began to build a tie between students’ current understandings and where he wanted to lead them. “What’s this?” he asked as he played a lively rock tune on the piano. The classroom came alive. For the first time, students smiled and looked alert. “‘Lovers Concerto’!” they chorused. Then Mr. Holland asked whether anyone liked the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. In the face of blank stares, he countered, “Sure you do,” as he demonstrated how “Lovers Concerto” is a variation on Bach’s “Minuet in G.” The “zone” under way, teacher and students began to extend it. “Hands were up in the air, they were answering questions. It was so much fun!” Mr. Holland reported enthusiastically to his wife that evening, in a reversal of his usual pessimistic recap of the school day. Mr. Holland discovered that teaching requires both “heart” and learning goals tailored to children’s interests, knowledge, and skills. Each is essential for building a relationship that engages the learner. Yet Mr. Holland could not transfer these basic realizations to the rearing of his own child, Col, born with a profound hearing loss.

Keywords:   Bilingual children, Cognitive development, Deaf children, Impulsive children, Intersubjectivity, Methylphenidate, Regimented learning, Sign languages

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