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Monday, April 20, 2015

Telling True from False

After it rained yesterday, I noticed that some of the tiny real flowers at the center of the dogwood blossom had started to open.

All these years of living here, and this is the first time I have seen the true flowers blooming. Up till now I had been focused on the showy white false petals that are really just bracts -- not seeing the flowers for the leaves.

Bow and I went outside and I looked very carefully at the tiny flowers at the center of the bloom. Some were open, and some were still shut. Many of the blossoms had a single little green flower at the center open, while all the other flower heads were still in expectancy. The clapping that you hear at the beginning of the video is Bow, in the outer pen, trying to draw my attention.

Bow is so expressive with his hands. In the video embedded above you can clearly see him beckoning for me to come and open the door, because he wants to go back inside.

Yesterday morning I struggled with Bow for over an hour, holding off breakfast, trying to get him to spell by himself. We are both very stubborn. But I wasn't going to starve him, and our life is very much dependent on civilized routines, like pouring cereal into a bowl and eating it with a spoon, and clearing away at the end of a meal,  so eventually I gave him a very limp hand to use, and he spelled with my hand in his. But the fit was very, very loose. This morning, I would not give him a whole hand at all. I would only offer a finger.

At first Bow was not happy with this, and he tried to gently pry my hand open.

 But when that did not work, he started spelling with my balled up hand in his.

This is not good enough to prove anything to the skeptical. But it's a way to loosen the dependency on my hand. I think if you look closely, though, you can  see that my hand is not the driving force behind Bow's choices.

In life, lots of what we see is only a show, to protect something else that we can't see. People say one thing and mean something else. They point you one way, when the real answer is in the opposite direction. There are flashy, showy petals that are really not petals at all. But sometimes if you look a little closer, you will discover where the real flower is hiding, right there in front of you where it has been all along in full view.


  1. I think your approach of trying multiple ways - limp hand, one finger, etc. is a good idea to try with Bow. Ha - no doubt, you are both equally stubborn! A battle of wills! I'm eager to see the outcome of this!

  2. what did he end up spelling with your finger?

    1. He did actually use my finger as a pointer at first, but I don't have footage of that. By the time I started filming, my finger was pointing one way, and he was pointing with his own fingers on the glass, but holding onto my hand. What I think you can see is that I am not holding onto his hand.

  3. I do not understand Hebrew, but at the very beginning I see Bow shaking his head no. I looks like maybe he was being a bit stubborn. I think you know he could do it on his own, the spelling, and he knows it to, but he likes it when you hold his hand to spell.

    1. Yes, Julia. That is true. Bow and I both know what he can do. This proof thing is not for us -- it's for other people, especially academics, who are the biggest doubters.

      This is why I don't call what I am doing with him right now teaching. I call it testing.

      Incidentally, under No Child Left Behind they seem to distinguish between "assessment" and "testing", but both are very similar. It's not about what the child knows, but only about what can be demonstrated that he knows to complete strangers in a perfectly objective manner.