My post last week about my friend's lack of internal monologue reminded me of my last year in the classroom when I had a little boy with absolutely no internal monologue.
Anything that came to his mind immediately went out his mouth- and he had no idea this was happening.
It was certainly a problem when it came to the class bathroom. We'd happily be working away at reading centers and we'd hear a narration of everything happening behind the door. I'd silently walk over to the classical music and crank it up, drowning out the bathroom chatter lingering over my new readers. When you are six, listening to conversations about poop, farts, and toilets is far more interesting than decoding words in instructional level texts. Especially when the instructional level text is merely, "Here comes the ____ car" on every page.
It also posed a problem during the day as well. I subscribed to a mix between the responsive classroom and Fred Jones style of classroom management. You use the words you need to get the message across- no more, no less. No need to lecture 6 year olds, you'll only end up sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher. Follow logical consequences immediately and allow the consequences to speak for themselves. In the beginning of the year this looks like a lot of practicing. We practice getting in line. If there is talking we do it again. We practice walking in the hallway. If there is talking we turn around and do it again. You don't have to say anything about the talking- you just turn around, point back at the door- expressionless- and send everyone back to try again.
My no-internal monologue friend did not like this at all. The problem in the plan was that he had no idea he was sharing his thoughts with us. So when the class silently lined up and he yelled, "Oh my GOD I hope nobody talks this time!" I would silently point to the rug and the class would silently go back and try again. This of course was met with, "I KNEW someone was going to talk. Stupid teacher. GOD she's so MEAN!"
If you called his name during one of these monologues he'd look up shocked, startled, and hurt that you'd interrupted his train of thought.
At first I had no idea that he had no idea we could all hear what he was saying. I thought he was calling me stupid on purpose to get attention or a reaction. I was determined not to give him a reaction as we silently lined up again. "OH MY GOD- this is going to take FOREVER. Why do these stupid kids keep talking?" he'd sigh as we lined up. Again, fingers pointed back to the carpet so we could try again. "I HATE her!" he'd yell. Eventually I'd give up and he'd lose recess or would experience some other totally non-logical consequence for keeping us from getting in line quietly.
Finally, one day after an, "OH MY GOD! This is SO Stupid!" I called his name. "Sir, You do know we can hear you, right?" He looked up in utter horror with his mouth wide open.
"What?" he sputtered
"You just called me stupid" I told him.
"No I didn't" he said with indignation, as though he would never, ever think to tell a teacher- to her face- that he thought she was stupid.
That was neither the first, or the last day that year I felt like banging my head against the wall.