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Except from:
Wink, J. (2000, 2/e, pp.107-109) Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the REAL WORLD. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman.

A Teachable Heart.
When I first heard McLaren (1994) mention this idea, I thought, “Yes, that is the by-product of good teaching and learning.” I would like to say that he taught this to me, but really what he did is just affirm what I had previously learned from José of the Tucson phone book fame.

You will remember that José was one of that group of students who taught and learned with me for six consecutive years in Benson? The first year I met José he was in seventh grade and didn’t say a word all year; Jos? was very much like an ethnographer in that he participated in and observed everything. José was, and is, a quiet, private, and reserved person. In the eighth grade, José started to talk. In the ninth grade, he spoke and students in the class began to listen. In tenth grade, students in other parts of the high school started to listen. In eleventh grade, the students in student government started to listen. In twelfth grade, the entire community started to listen when he graduated with honors in two languages.

In the spring of his senior year, the students chose to take a standardized national honors test in Spanish and in English so those with high achievement could be given college credit for their knowledge.

One of our most memorable teaching/learning experiences had taken place when he was a freshman in high school. One of his classmates had innocently asked: how to say “I love you” in Spanish? in French? in German? in Swahili? The list went on and on. This was a turning point for all of us because we stopped whatever we were covering and began to research answers for the questions. For the next several weeks, the students went to libraries, interviewed travelers, and visited with families who had come from other countries. The students could not collect enough information to satisfy them; I was almost running to catch up as I tried to understand what was happening. Of course, we learned more about languages, and cultures, and geography than anything else could have taught us. The students also established a list of 25 different ways to say “I love you.” They relished practicing in and out of class. Since that time, I have never been afraid to follow the natural curiosity of students.

Although this activity had not been mentioned in class since their freshman year, when José and his classmates sat down to take the national test, I wanted to include some part of it as a reminder of our very special time together. On the final page of the very long test, I had written in bold letters down the middle of the page:

Translate into as many languages as you can:

I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________
I love you. ________________

As the students came to the end of the test, I could tell by the look on their faces that I had found the perfect parting memory for us. Jos? was sitting in the middle row, the middle seat, as I quietly walked the rows during the test. When I came up behind him, I looked down at his paper and saw that he had written:

Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.
Yo sé.

Yo sé in English means, “I know.”

From that moment on I have understood the importance of the teachable heart. José had one; he learned not only what was taught, but much more. And, along the way he taught us all.