Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SLANT - what is it good for?

This past school year, I frequently heard reference to the acronym "SLANT," an expectation that teachers should have for their students - even the preschoolers:

S - Sit up straight
L - Look and listen
A - Ask and answer questions
N - Nod your head
T - Track the speaker with your eyes

Pardon the pun, but this simply doesn't sit right with me. Certainly, not for three year olds - who, developmentally, simply should not be held to such foolish physical rigidity. You are setting them up for failure, for rebuke.

Honestly, I'm not sure it is a "solution" for any age student. I could perhaps make a case for it to be guidance that you give to teens, almost an etiquette training, for how to conduct themselves during an interview.

However, insisting that everyone do this, all the time, while the teacher is teaching? Is this conformity necessary? Does anyone see this as a little bit spooky and surreal?

I wonder and argue - isn't it possible that you may look like you are attending, but you are not?

Case in point, my darling mother - who has dementia. Honestly and truly, Mom has mastered SLANT. It is the last vestige of her social skills. She sits with family and friends, looking and acting as if she is hanging on to their every word:

- she sits up straight;
- she listens closely;
- she grabs onto the last few words said and repeats them with an inquiring voice - "you went to the house?" (Often she will sigh or make a chuckle, affirming the emotional tone of the conversation - her ear for this is remarkable);
- she nods her head; and
- she doesn't take her eyes off the speaker.

I can assure you - my Mom is not following the discussion. We have sadly lost the ability to actually dialogue with her. She's just faking her participation, a last hopeful gesture to mask her dementia, to pretend to the world that all is well.

Isn't it possible that SLANT by students is similarly not an indicator that they are actively engaged?

Shouldn't we have more meaningful opportunities for and indicators of engagement?

Or have I missed the point of SLANT?

Perhaps it is so that children will be seen and not heard?

Yes, I have real issues with this.


  1. New one for you:

    Sit however you are comfortable (feel free to move or stretch if necessary)
    Love what you are doing
    Understand there are so many ways to see things, stay open
    Manage with kindness and compassion
    Present, be present. Try to remember the beauty in small moments and not get overwhelmed.

    The funny thing about using slant..it sooo slanted and ridiculous. Just want to scream when I hear stuff like this.

    Your story about your mother is sad and tender at the same time. Thanks for sharing it and connecting the story to your post.

    Keep shaking things up maureen!

  2. How about SLEEP (for teens)? ;)

    Ok, summer's almost over! Wake up!