Volume 3, Issue 9, page 8

ulooks, but the teacher snakes her head as
each looks at her. They back away, or stand
their distance. It is notable that they
look silent questions at the teacher. This
is some kind of a ritual, like so many other things that take place in the House on
Martha Avenue. The other boys and girls who
seem to know so little, know; they know
about Katya.

Now Katya has all the clocks on the
table. She hesitates, between flinging them
back into the first box, back into the second uox, or acting on some third choice.
Possibly she may be unable to decide between the two boxes, and so flings t h e
blocks back into neither. Or possibly from
the time she started banging the blocks
about, she knew what she was going to do as
third choice.

Katya moves around to a long side of the
table. A boy is in the way and her plump
body pushes him aside. She seems not to see
him, or anybody.

She grabs a block. She crashes it down
almost squarely in the center of the table.
She has to bow her body over the table edge
to do it. One foot lifts off the floor,
hits a boy on the shin. He steps back, rubbing the place, his face squirming. But he
doesn't cry. He is too much interested in
what Katya is doing.

Katya catches up a second block, piles
it atop the first. The top block isn't
squarely atop the first block, not by considerable, but it stays. Katya looks at it
briefly, so briefly it doesn't seem that
she has looked at all. Then she touches the
second block with unexpected gentleness,
not quite squaring it atop the first block.

That this Katya can possibly pile up
more than half a dozen blocks seems out of
the question. There is tension, clearly
felt by the visitor, as she plops the third
block atop the second, and the fourth atop
the third, and the pile waves. Katya takes
note of the wavering. She piles a fifth
block atop the fourth, a sixth atop the
fifth. The pile wavers more than it did.
Katya now licks her upper lip, which needs
the ministrations of a handkerchief and
doesn't get them. Even the teacher seems
unaware of the need, possibly because it is

Katya piles a seventh block atop the
sixth, an eighth atop the seventh. The column jiggles. A boy moves stealthily toward
the end of the table. But the teacher is
instantly aware of him, snaps his name so
that he backs away.

The staircase becomes more circular,
more tottery. It's quite impossible that it
continue to stand, yet stand it does, as
blocks move up and around as if they mounted the irregular steps instead of being
pawns in the hard hands of small mongoloid

Then it is noticed that Katya, fast with
her hands, and rough though she is, is doing something -- she has to be -- that keeps
the blocks from falling. In some kind of
mentation she balances the blocks, doing it
so quickly with each that nobody, except
the teacher, notes that she does so. The
blocks continue climbing when they would
fall down for anybody in the room, including the teacher and the visitor. And whether or not there are 26 blocks, nobody ever
o T7. . A 1
seems to count or check the red letters on
the stained-with-fingerprints wood, all the
blocks rise raggedly fran the table, and
none is left in either of the boxes. Then
Katya stands momentarily to look at her
handiwork. She steps back, cocking her head
on one side. Then she moves in, bringing
her arm wide, hand open. Clearly she is going to crash her hand through the middle of
her leaning Tower of Pisa circular staircase.

The teacher gasps. The children lean
forward, sit forward.

Katya chuckles. Nobody warns her, mentions her name. But in the midst of the
swing she holds her hand, literally, and
begins, one at a time, while all the way
down the column jiggles precariously, to
take away the blocks.

And now she has made her decision about
the two boxes. She flings the first block
into the second box, the second block into
the first box. All the way down, until she
has restored half the blocks to one box,
half to the other, Katya slams blocks alternately into the boxes.

It is quite a feat for Katya, and the
teacher applauds softly. The visitor, not
knowing why, applauds, too. The children
clap hands, maybe because the teacher and
visitor do. Then Katya, highly appreciative
though h e r facial expression does not
change, applauds herself, or just claps her
hands because her palms make noise going
together like that.
"This," said the teacher, "is real progress. Katya piles blocks instead of throwing them. When she came to us, 15 months
ago, she threw them. That made many of the
other children throw blocks. You'll find
dents on the walls, if you look, but the
dents they made on one another have healed.
Only Katya needs to be watched now so that
if she shows any real sign of throwing instead of piling her blocks, someone can
warn her."
"And this is considered progress?" the
visitor asks. Before the teacher can answer
the visitor knows the question to be out of
order. Katya, who knew nothing of using her
hands save as instruments with which to
throw, doesn't throw any more, though she
does pile whatever can be piled.

Katya proves this by beginning to take
one block out of the first box and slamming
it down on the table, a second block out of
the second box and crashing it down atop
the first, both atop the table. The circular
staircase is again in process of construeti On.

The visitor finds it impossible to watch
Katya, to see whether, this time, the tower
stands until the last block has been placed
atop it. It becomes clear that rather special sort of teachers, with even more than
infinite patience, understanding, and mental ability, are required for the teaching
of the severely retarded.

But there are such teachers, and more
can be trained, now that it has been proved
that the severely retarded can be trained,
at least sufficiently to make them less
burdensome to the world df which they seem
to know nothing.
(Next marth: "In the Hands of Women")
Reform theme: To be happy, be miserable.
'EBRUARY, 1957