"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Language and Body Language

In the readings this week, I couldn't stop thinking about body language and facial expression as being important to discussions about language and understanding.   Recently, a student came in to our office, and he was visually closed-off:  frowning, furrowed brow, and his speech was short and hard.  He was clearly frustrated.  So part of my job is to make him feel comfortable and safe: I want him to graduate, I want to help, I want to help him navigate VCU’s seemingly endless maze of policies and procedures.

So by being friendly, and by “asking good questions” (from “Conducting Effective Interviews” article), I was able to help this student open up, loosen his hard stance, and we were able to have a good conversation, which I hope will help get him closer to graduation.  

As an added bonus:  He now knows the word “bulletin” which helped him understand how to navigate his path to graduation. (Just because a word is part of our daily vocabulary doesn't mean that all of our constituents share that vocabulary.  Sometimes helping people understand our institutionally specific vocabulary can help them feel more confident navigating a process.)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Caitlin, you've even figured out how to insert pictures! You are the new go-to guru for our blog this year! Thank you for sending that email to the class about by-passing the VCU roadblock, I hope others are having luck signing on.... Glad you had a chance to read the Merriam chapter. Qualitative interviews are powerful indeed....Thank you for posting,


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.