“Sound Is My Servant”

27 12 2006

I see words typed out letter by letter behind my eyes, which is how I spell well, and remember names. It’s not photographic exactly (wish it were!) but literally literate, as in books and the written word. “Born reader” fits me to a T.

And I had no idea that my way of word-thinking wasn’t the only way, until one day I did make room for that radical possibility and started talking to my folks and friends about it, which led me into education theory, and more recently talking with my own children, who as it turns out, DON’T experience thought, much less the world, as I do.

My kids don’t see each word typed out as they think them, and find it hysterically weird that I do, although they do love to read and are natural spellers and writers.

I think Favorite Daughter learns from sounds more than I do. But we noticed when Young Son was a toddler that his ears are his supercharged learning tool–he’s an uncanny mimic and recites completely (including inflection, instrumentation and sound effects!) after only one or two exposures to something he particularly enjoys hearing.

So perhaps it shouldn’t have startled us all speechless–but it did–when on Christmas afternoon, taking turns laughing and mugging for the new handycam as we played board games and fixed dinner, Young Son (age 11) remarked matter-of-factly and with odd dignity — “sound is my servant.”

Huh?

Would you explain that to the camera, please?

He did. And this is what he said. (Not word for word because *I* do not have perfect aural recall — help, please, if any of you think this way or have children who do; I’m enchanted as mom but as educator, I’m out of my element on this one!)

“Sound is my servant. I hear a number being itself in its sound — like with bell chimes, the third one sounds like thr-r-eee.” He makes the sound that it makes to him.

I remember something equally strange to me (from READING it, not hearing it) on Pam and Sandra’s unschool discussion list, about people who naturally associate colors with numbers — it has a fancy scientific name, synesthesia. But sounds? Does any of this “sound” natural to any of you?

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UPDATE – Favorite Daughter now tells me her top learning strength is visual, but not typed word-visual, more like whole pictures that might have text in them but are not merely text. She remembers detailed snapshots of whole views like (as she says) Claudia in the Newberry Medal-winning book, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. “That’s why I don’t use bookmarks,” she says. “I will know the page when I see it.”

UPDATE II – FavD says she often hears her own thoughts in the past-tense, as first-person narrative. “I thought perhaps this was all some psychological reaction but then I caught myself thinking that.” She says she thinks in other narrative devices too, such as identifying people by description tags (my best friend, my dad) rather than the names she would call them out loud. She is living her own real life as the power of story she’s living in! This I completely get. 🙂

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5 responses

28 12 2006
misedjj

Sad to see that my alma mater’s student newspaper calls such marvelous blends of the mind mere “disorder.”
So I’d use other links instead, like this from the post and then this (check out these interconnected sensory research abstracts!), which puts me more in mind of Greg Bear and his books, Darwin’s Radio and Darwin’s Children.
What if synesthesia-type sensory connection IS the cutting edge of evolutionary improvement in the species? When we say we want our children to surpass us, do we mean it, or are we mortally threatened by the possibility? Do we really buy into evolution if we don’t accept that our own biology may be obsolescing us in favor of our children. . .

28 12 2006
misedjj

Hmm – the “sound of numbers” isn’t so common online, except as an engineered mneumonic device one consciously adopts. That’s nothing like what Young Son is describing. Maybe this webring of mixed “synesthetes” comes closer?

29 12 2006
Brandon A

“Sound is my servant” That’s profound. I miss you guys and can’t wait to see you upon my arrival back to non disney world land.

29 12 2006
misedjj

BRANDON!!!
🙂
Talk about living your power of story in real life — performers enjoy that privilege year-round, of course, but especially so this time of year! Your kind of Christmas was hands down THE coolest, making and giving the magic instead of only receiving it. We’ve all missed you too. Will you be home for New Year’s Eve, and how’s that ankle?

(I’d think of it and chuckle every time that Peyton Manning commercial came on tv — “shake it off, rub some dirt in it!”)

28 02 2008
Soundbite at the Museum? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Soundbite at the Museum? 28 02 2008 Another great learning-as-life post from Holly and Lucia unschooling in Paris. This one connects art, science and inspiration through real sounds we’ve never thought to imagine before. (Put me in mind of Young Son announcing one Christmas that sound was his servant.) […]

. . .if you’re interested in some great sound experiences, have a listen at the NPR series called SoundClips where you can hear the sound of Arctic ice shifting, low frequency radio waves created by lightning, the purr of a hummingbird’s wings, or the rumblings of underwater volcanoes. Enjoy!

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