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 Post subject: CATCF Question #3 - A Persistent Muddler?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:41 am 
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In the Roald Dahl bio I posted, two teachers at Repton, a distinguished preparatory school in Derbyshire, commented on Dahl’s writing: One teacher, commenting on the fourteen-year-old boy's English composition work, wrote, as Dahl related in Lucky Break, "I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." One year later, another comment on Dahl's English composition read: "A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences mal-constructed. He reminds me of a camel."

What is your opinion?



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:27 am 
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Gosh well those are interesting comments -
maybe Roald Dahl was just too different in his thinking for the school system, kind of like Johnny
he is obviously very original and has some amazingly inventive ideas, maybe he is just so brilliant that his writing doesnt keep up with his thinking - i think i also read about him on a thread here that he didnt use a computer but wrote by hand (or is that just my imagination
i think i read somewhere on the ONBC that he reworks his writing a lot
maybe he had dyslexia (i know thats a wild stab in the dark)
but he sorted it out with age, a lot of very creative talented people have dyslexia, a lot of famous actors - i think Vanessa Redgrave has dyslexia, but then again maybe he doesnt
excuse MY writing for being a little muddled, but it is late at night here
i have just opened my copy of CATCF on my lap in front of the computer and it seems very well organised and written, the opening lines are very well organised
"these two very old people are the father and mother of Mr Bucket. Their names are Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine"
just right for a childrens book. Each sentence building logically on the last.
Maybe he didnt fit in with the prepatory school system and was just too original and thought out of the box.
anyway i hope this isnt too muddled to read
i wish i had more time or it wasnt so late at night and i could give this careful consideration, must admit the pic parties contribute to this lack of time, far too much time spent gazing at Johnny
oh well



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:32 am 
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i only read two childsbooks by mr dahl so i can only give my opinion on that.
also i think your writing is still in progress after your fourteen and i think maybe because of his great imagination it was very hard for a kid that age to explane himself.
i think he is pretty clear telling the storie i dont get the mumbling part.
it were just real easy reads,and great for kids to see especially grown ups do silly things.
greets,
es


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:30 am 
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Quote:
trulymadlydepply wrote: Maybe he didnt fit in with the prepatory school system and was just too original and thought out of the box.


Quote:
es wrote: also i think your writing is still in progress after your fourteen and i think maybe because of his great imagination it was very hard for a kid that age to explane himself.


Good points! If Dahl's imagination was that vivid at age fourteen he probably did have a hard time expressing what he was trying to say. The revision process that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory underwent when he wrote it was interesting too. I am sure learning how to rewrite and revise like that takes years to learn.



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:38 am 
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truelymadlydepply wrote:
Maybe he didnt fit in with the prepatory school system and was just too original and thought out of the box.
anyway i hope this isnt too muddled to read
i wish i had more time or it wasnt so late at night and i could give this careful consideration, must admit the pic parties contribute to this lack of time, far too much time spent gazing at Johnny
oh well


I can see him not fitting into the box. And Trulymadlydepply, I think your writing is truly unmuddled. IMHO Dahl's writing is very organized, grammatically correct and pulls in the reader--all signs of a good writer.

es wrote:
also i think your writing is still in progress after your fourteen and i think maybe because of his great imagination it was very hard for a kid that age to explane himself.


I think this might have something to do with it, es. At least I'm hoping, in the case of a certain kiddie of mine. I do know from experience that some kids' brains are thinking so fast that they can't get it down on paper in an organized fashion. And if the physical process of holding a pen is difficult for some, it can create an even bigger problem.



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:38 am 
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I read only the Chocolate Factory and the Great Elevator Glass books, but I think Roald's writings are amazing... He made Wonka! He invented the neat sentences Wonka says and all of Wonka's craziness and "weirdness". Dahl made the chocolate factory, he found the Oompa Loompas. What does he have to do with a camel? :eyebrow:

I love the CATCF books.

:-) Vivi.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:45 am 
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Liz wrote:
truelymadlydepply wrote:
Maybe he didnt fit in with the prepatory school system and was just too original and thought out of the box.
anyway i hope this isnt too muddled to read
i wish i had more time or it wasnt so late at night and i could give this careful consideration, must admit the pic parties contribute to this lack of time, far too much time spent gazing at Johnny
oh well


I can see him not fitting into the box. And Trulymadlydepply, I think your writing is truly unmuddled. IMHO Dahl's writing is very organized, grammatically correct and pulls in the reader--all signs of a good writer.

es wrote:
also i think your writing is still in progress after your fourteen and i think maybe because of his great imagination it was very hard for a kid that age to explane himself.


I think this might have something to do with it, es. At least I'm hoping, in the case of a certain kiddie of mine. I do know from experience that some kids' brains are thinking so fast that they can't get it down on paper in an organized fashion. And if the physical process of holding a pen is difficult for some, it can create an even bigger problem.

sometimes kids also have just a total different way of expresing themselves.
i know my youngest daughter cant make a proper sentence,she is 7,but she sees al parts of the story.
we tel a story from a to z she begins by g and then to k and back to b for example so no one knows what she is talking about.and to make matters worse she remembers things on smell or taste not by picturing,sometimes she is a real puzzle.
hope you are right about your kiddie,curious how he/she evolves!
greetings,
es


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 Post subject: Re: CATCF Question #3 - A Persistent Muddler?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:25 pm 
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Liz wrote:
[color=indigo "I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." One year later, another comment on Dahl's English composition read: "A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences mal-constructed. He reminds me of a camel."

What is your opinion?[/color]


Well now, what does that mean, he reminds him of a camel? Do I need to watch a few more nature programmes to improve my knowledge of this animal? Are camels noted, for instance, for their muddled thinking? Might the camel be capable of producing only a particularly limited number of sounds when it wishes to communicate, so that its vocabulary may be considered negligible? Or might the teacher be referring to the shape of his writing in terms of paragraphing? Flippancy aside, maybe it's just me not seeing it, but I think the teacher's writing is muddled at this point. I think it says more about the school ethos at that time, than it does about RD, that he made such a comment.

There are plenty of references to his school being like that. I read one account - I can't remember now if it was in Boy or in Danny The Champion - probably the latter, which, OK, is fictional, but I do think he drew on his own experiences here - about a time when the child is doing his work - independent work, anyway. So, he is supervised, working in absolute silence, not allowed to talk. When he asks another boy if he can borrow a nib, he is punished by the teacher in charge, who acuses him of cheating. I am not sure if I have all the details correctly because it's a while since I read these books, but as I remember it, the boy was caned. I also remember an occcasion in Boy when his mother complained to the head about him being caned. Then there's all the business of prefects taking a run at their victims to cane them, and RD having to serve as a toilet seat warmer in the winter. Harsh times.
I have wondered off and made my own writing muddled now. Oh well, that'll teach me. My other point is, that a child doing "homework" - not at home but in such conditions as I have described - may not necessarily be able to produce his best work. It's not the same as having the luxury of allowing a budding idea to blossom at its own pace and being able to rework it as you like. And when RD wrote as a professional, he chose subjects that interested him, as opposed to those he was given at school.
I also think there are quite a few instances of a child not shining at something in school and later demonstrating quite an aptitude for it. I wonder if Johnny's teachers commented on him being an avid reader, for instance.



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:33 pm 
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From my expereince, helping kids that are slow readers, thoughts just don't come together in an organized way. I believe their brains just aren't quite mature enough. I can see that happening with a fourteen yr old especially with the dreaded hormones raging!

Also it might have been that his intellect was far more advanced than the work that was required of him. These kids tend to get bored very easily and just do the minimum required because it just doesn't interest them. Just my thoughts. :blush:



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 7:38 pm 
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Quote:
axelsgirl wrote: Also it might have been that his intellect was far more advanced than the work that was required of him. These kids tend to get bored very easily and just do the minimum required because it just doesn't interest them. Just my thoughts.


Very true axelsgirl. One of my neighbors had a son like that, poor grades, poor attitude about school, until a teacher was able to reach him by challenging him. It made all the difference!

Quote:
suec wrote: Well now, what does that mean, he reminds him of a camel? Do I need to watch a few more nature programmes to improve my knowledge of this animal? Are camels noted, for instance, for their muddled thinking? Might the camel be capable of producing only a particularly limited number of sounds when it wishes to communicate, so that its vocabulary may be considered negligible? Or might the teacher be referring to the shape of his writing in terms of paragraphing?


:rotflmao: Good questions all! Didn't I read somewhere that a camel is a horse designed by a committee? Maybe he felt RD had too many parts that didn't seem to fit together? :dunce:



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 10:00 am 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Quote:
axelsgirl wrote: Also it might have been that his intellect was far more advanced than the work that was required of him. These kids tend to get bored very easily and just do the minimum required because it just doesn't interest them. Just my thoughts.


Very true axelsgirl. One of my neighbors had a son like that, poor grades, poor attitude about school, until a teacher was able to reach him by challenging him. It made all the difference!


I'm seeing this with a few freshman I know.

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
Quote:
suec wrote: Well now, what does that mean, he reminds him of a camel? Do I need to watch a few more nature programmes to improve my knowledge of this animal? Are camels noted, for instance, for their muddled thinking? Might the camel be capable of producing only a particularly limited number of sounds when it wishes to communicate, so that its vocabulary may be considered negligible? Or might the teacher be referring to the shape of his writing in terms of paragraphing?


:rotflmao: Good questions all! Didn't I read somewhere that a camel is a horse designed by a committee? Maybe he felt RD had too many parts that didn't seem to fit together? :dunce:


I had never heard that before, but that makes a lot of sense in terms of writing and the maturity issues we've been discussing here.



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:03 pm 
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About the camel, I have heard that a camel is a COW put together by a committee. Same thing, maybe a horse is even more silly when you look at the resulting camel.

This has been a very interesting thread. I think children far too often are not challenged in the way they need to be. I have sons who have basically not met their potential because they became bored without challenge, and a grandson who blossomed from a child the school wanted to put in special ed into a child taking advanced classes because he was finally given a chance to be challenged; as much as anything else, he needed structure to flourish. So I could identify with much that was said here.

but I had not thought about how hard it might be for a young person to corral his imagination into words on paper without the chance to experiment and revise.

At any rate, a big raspberry to those teachers who were obvioulsy way off the mark with their criticism.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:10 pm 

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It's a testament to his will and determination to write after enduring such harsh criticism! I would suppose he never was privy to those judgements.
I especially liked his poetry/songs the oompa-loompas sang--very much a morality statement. Especially the diatribe about the perils of Television!
Any writer of children's books must have a good sense of the absurd. He's got it. Has anyone ever read his "cookbook"? It's great.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 12:58 am 
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deppraved wrote:
It's a testament to his will and determination to write after enduring such harsh criticism! I would suppose he never was privy to those judgements.
I especially liked his poetry/songs the oompa-loompas sang--very much a morality statement. Especially the diatribe about the perils of Television!
Any writer of children's books must have a good sense of the absurd. He's got it. Has anyone ever read his "cookbook"? It's great.


Welcome, Deppraved! :wave: I'm glad you've joined in on the discussion. That's a good point about it being a testament to his will and determination. I'm assuming his grades reflected the comments. Thus, he would have to know. He must have been a confident man. I would have been shattered.



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