Vn90.1 Meeting Miriam’s Teacher 9/11-12/77

9/11 This Sunday morning, Miriam inquired of me if I knew what kind of
a teacher she had. When I admitted I did not, she continued:


Nice. She says if the math problems are too easy, I won’t have to do them.

What will you do instead?

Play with other games, I guess.

Why did she talk to you about this? . . . Did you have math on Friday?

No. I went and asked her about it.

9/12 Early in April before this project began, I discussed with Bob
Gracia, guidance counselor for the Heath/Baldwin schools, the possible
impact on Miriam’s school life of her work on my thesis project. I
raised such questions as these: if Miriam’s level of knowledge and
capacity for rapid development placed her markedly ahead of her peers,
would this be a problem for her? The senses in which I imagined possible
problems were these: her teacher, coming under an additional burden to
provide separate guidance for Miriam, might come to dislike her; to find
continued intellectual challenge, might Miriam be forced to skip into a
higher grade with other children who would be more mature in other ways?
Bob assured me that neither of these possible problems would arise, that
where special needs were clearly shown, the school assumed the respon-
sibility to provide individualized curricula. He proposed a meeting with
Miriam’s first grade teacher at the beginning of the academic year.

Today Gretchen and I met with Bob Gracia and Sue Fieman, Miriam’s
new teacher. Our concerns were three — that Sue know of Miriam’s
allergic vulnerabilities; that she know that our project is still con-
tinuing, that during the next month after school Miriam will be coming
to work at Logo with me; finally, that she not get mad at Miriam. The
first two points are of information, and not too difficult to address.
Both Bob and Sue were interested in the work of our project as I des-
cribed it to them. Sue was excited at the opportunity to see first hand
how Miriam’s experiences at Logo would interact with her standard school
work; she mentioned in passing having done some preliminary assessments
of her students and how surprised she had been that in a class with a
number of ‘non-conservers’ she found Miriam solving class inclusion
problems without difficulty.

Given Sue’s reaction to my description of Miriam’s work on this
project, I believe Miriam has little to fear of teacher antipathy. Nonetheless,
I told Sue the little story of Miriam’s discussion with her from
yesterday to indicate Miriam’s hope to avoid boring work. I also
mentioned Miriam’s earlier fear that the teacher wouldn’t like her because
she knew too much already. On the contrary, Sue seems quite eager to
work with Miriam and wants to know what sort of instruction would be
best for Miriam — “where should she start her out?” I avoided answer-
ing that question in a school-oriented way. I did tell her not to worry
about special instruction: Miriam had previously expressed a wish to
do what everyone else did; and that, with the exception of adding, I had
not been working on school-like material. Miriam would have some special
knowledge, for example about geometry, but such special knowledge would
be outside the normal curriculum. The greatest differences between
Miriam and her peers I expect to be in her tendency to focus on mental
processes and her ability to discuss thinking articulately. I concluded
that the experiments from now on will best provide answers about her
question of where to start Miriam out. Sue remarked that was no problem,
that first grade never began any academic work until October so that each
child had a month to get used to the people and surroundings.

This report of a meeting with Miriam’s new teacher leads me to
conclude that Miriam will have no difficulty with her. She is sympathetic,
open-minded, and considers it an opportunity that a child with Miriam’s
unique experience is in her class.

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