Saturday, 16 May 2009

Wehad a frantic 'phone call

yesterday. Sam had to get his essay into university by 15:45 and could someone please read it first?
Sam is 'dyslexic'. I am never sure what this label means. Sam is a nice boy. He is, like other young males of my acquaintance, disorganised and not very mature. He leaves things until the last minute. It was tempting to tell him 'no' and watch him learn the hard way. Being weak and tender hearted ( especially after he promised to change the light bulb) I gave in.
He has 1500 words to write. He has written about 1,100 and cannot think of what else he should say. He had not yet written a conclusion. He tells me all of this earnestly and somewhat anxiously.
His essay is about the fragmentation of the building industry. I know nothing, or almost nothing, about the building industry. When I have read what he has written I am not much better informed. His spelling and grammar are atrocious. Worse than that, Sam has the wrong end of the measuring tape. He has not understood the question. We have about four hours to pull this into some sort of shape.
Sam is about to panic. I tell him to calm down and send the draft through on the e-mail so that I can work on it as well. What really stuns me is that Sam does not know about the editing function in Word. This is a supposedly computer-savvy kid who should know far more about computers than I do. He is as excited as small boy about this.
I pull him back into line and explain the question. No Sam, you cannot just use statistics. You have to explain why you think fragmentation occurs. What are the reasons for it? He has no idea. I suggest things like the need for specific skills and union demarcation lines may influence the issue. Oh. He struggles with the concept. We eventually get something together. It might scrape a pass.
My 10yr old friend is turning up this morning to finish her school project. This involved reading three books, finding out something about the authors and writing the information up. Ciaranne has searched the internet for author information, asked questions of a son of one of the authors and looked at a couple of journals after I informed her that such things existed. Okay, we had to make the trip to the library together but she initiated it. This morning, at my insistence, she is going to write up her references in approved fashion. There were grumbles about this yesterday afternoon but I have told her it is part of research and it has to be done. Is she too young at 10 to be worried about such things? I do not think so. It will take her about half an hour. When she has finished she will have something that far surpasses Sam's essay.
Sam is a good kid. He's going to make a good husband, a good father and a good citizen. If he can get a job then his ability to understand the question will not matter.

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