‘People of colour are magical and mystical and powerful and beautiful and spiritual and strong and excellent at what they do. There’s just so much power and talent… The black experience is a powerful one, and I can see why that would be intimidating (for white people). I just personally choose to be a fan… To just thank the universe for giving us people of colour, because it’s a gift. – Ellen Pompeo, Red Table Talk
I’ve been spending a lot of time recently listening to Red Table Talk, a Facebook Watch show, mostly while doing my kitchen chores. Each episode is a pleasure to experience. Ellen Pompeo above recently described something I’ve long been feeling. She said it so succinctly and beautifully I can’t top it, so I’m going to quote it. For me, her words represent the power of talking.
I am currently Delphine’s scribe. I write for her during her school class. Why do I do it? Well, I’ll explain. The platform system for InterHigh is typical for most internet-based schooling. I say this like internet-based schooling has been around for 25 years. There is a whiteboard where the teacher presents her slides and, if they want, they can enable the children to write on the whiteboard by giving them pen tools. There is also a comment box where the other part of the lesson takes place. Everybody in the classroom can write in the comments box during the lesson. The rest of the class and the teacher will see what they are writing.
This is where Delphine struggles. The writing during internet school can be fast. This comments box moves at a swift pace. It doesn’t take time to lose a particular thread of conversation. The teacher will ask a question and it can take some time for Delphine to type out her reply.
‘Delph,’ I’d say at first, ‘You have to do it yourself.’
Delph would groan. And she would do it but slow, slow, slow.
Let me stop for a sec. It’s not her fault. I’m not blaming her for the literacy difficulties she has to endure. I’m just old-school at heart. I used to feel that in order for her to learn, to really learn, then she had to do all the work herself. Each letter found. Each word crafted out. What I didn’t take into account was the way thoughts themselves flow.
So, I started jumping in to keep her thread flowing. Sometimes too, I did it to answer a question the teacher had asked the class. Ok, I never said I was perfect. I know it makes Delphine look like she’s some sort of child genius which of course she is but maybe in a slightly different way. Delphine’s genius comes from getting me to do school for her in the first place. I mean, who gets the last laugh there?
If my help is used to help her process own thoughts during her lessons then I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I didn’t realise until recently that children who sit exams can have their own scribes if necessary. Once I discovered that, I felt a bit better. I’ve told Delphine’s teachers too I’m sitting next to her as her scribe. So far none of them have objected. Ok, I only told one teacher. But she’s her English teacher so that’s weighty. Plus, I don’t feel so much a celebrity ghost writer as a ghost student. I’ll take the title of scribe while Delphine sneaks off and listens to Percy Jackson. We both know a time will come when she’s ready to become an independent learner. I try (not always successfully) to make peace with that. It’ll be ready when she’s ready.
What constitutes a long period of time? For some people; it’s a month. A couple of months. For others, a year or a number of years. I’m learning that time is in the experience of the eyes tracking it. The body which is feeling it. The mind remembering it. Mouths moving.