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Notes from Haim Ginott's Books
Haim Ginott's most famous quote:
Notes from two of his books:
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Between Parent and Teenager, Haim Ginott, 1972
"Rebellion follows rejection."
Differentiate between acceptance and approval.
Ginott offers these suggestions:
"Concerned adults serve best when with confidence they stand and wait." Futurizing breeds stress and fear.
Insult cuts deeper and lasts longer when it comes from the parent. p 36
He quotes a child:
Chapter 3 Primum non nocere
(First, do no harm.)
He gives the example of a child who says the soup is too salty. His parent says: "No it isn't." The child doesn't feel heard, accepted, validated, so he says with more drama and more emotion: "It's awful and I am not eating it! [This is how children become "dramatic"- when the parent doesn't accept what they say the first time.] Here is my adaptation of some things the parent can make the situation even worse by saying any of the following:
On problem solving:
"It is best not to volunteer verbal remedies. fix it hat. Instead, we let our teenage use his own initiative to deal with life situations. Acknowledging the difficulty and waiting for his suggestions allows him to assert his will and exercise his autonomy."
p. 54 He gives an example of a father who tells his son he doesn't know what he is talking about, and "correcting" him, thinking that he is teaching him something useful. But instead of learning what the father wanted him to learned "to resent his father and keep his ideas to himself."
If you try to convince your child that he knows nothing, in other words, that he is stupid, the real danger is that he may believe you. p 54
In an argument, the test of wisdom is the ability to summarize the other person's view before starting one's own. p 54
It is a parent's responsibility to demonstrate to his teenager fruitful methods of communication and conversation. 54
We win respect when our words fit
our feelings. 55
Acknowledging experience and
reflecting feelings are helpful interpersonal skills.
However, they are not tricks or gimmicks. Nor can they be
used mechanically. They are helpful only within a context
of concern and respect. In human relations the agents of
help are never solely the techniques, but the person who
employs them. Without compassion and authenticity, the
Strong feelings tend to diminish in intensity and to lose their sharp edges when a sympathetic listener accepts them with understanding. p 65
After emotional first aid has been administered, it is often best to postpone further action. [validation medication!] The temptation to teach someone an instant lesson should be resisted. Immediate intervention may only escalate the conflict. It is easier to resolve conflicts and restore peace when emotions have subsided and moods changed.
Our values should
support faith in one's own feelings and the
Parents are in the best position to respond with empathy and validation since they know the child the best. Instead, they often are the hardest on the child But often a stranger has more empathy because they do not have their own agenda and insecurities. (sph)
p 65 David went on a job interview. He was rejected. He came home feeling rejected, disappointed, discouraged and depressed. Father said: you really wanted that job didn't you? You were pretty sure you would get it.
Wanting a job and feeling qualified then not getting it is pretty tough.
Yeah, I really wanted it and I don't understand why I didn't get it. But it's not the end of the world. I will keep looking.
Ginott then lists these invalidating approaches which some fathers might have employed:
"Seven Roads To Trouble"
1. By reasoning. - "What did you expect? To get the first job you wanted? Life is not like that. You may have to five or even ten interviews before you are hired."
2. By cliche. "Rome was not built in one day, you know. You are still very young, and your whole life is in front of you. So chin up. Smile and the world will smile with you. Cry and you will cry alone. I hope it will teach you not to count your chickens before they are hatched."
3. By "take me for instance." - "When I was your age I went looking for my first job. I shined my shoes, got a haircut, put on clean clothes, and carried the Wall Street Journal with me. I knew how to make a good impression.
4. By minimizing the situation. - "I don't know why you should feel so depressed. There really is no good reason for you to be so discouraged. Big deal! One job did not work out. It's not worth even talking about."
5. By "the trouble with you." - "The trouble with you is that you don't know how to talk to people. You always put your foot in your mouth. You lack poise, and you are fidgety. You are too eager, and not patient enough. Besides, you are thin-skinned and easily hurt."
6. By self-pity. - "I am so sorry dear, I don't know what to tell you. My heart breaks. Life is so much a matter of luck. Other people have all the luck. They know the right people in the right places. We don't know anyone and no one knows us."
7. By a "Pollyanna" approach. - "Everything happens for the best. If you miss one bus there will soon be another, perhaps a less crowded one. If you didn't get one job, you'll get another-perhaps even a better one."
Here is my adaptation:
1. Reasoning: What did you expect? You didn't really think you would get the first one did you? Is that realistic? Life is not like that. You know better than that. You may have to go to five or even ten interviews before you get hired.
2. By cliché: Chin up. Rome wasn't built in a day. Maybe this will teach you not to count your chickens before they are hatched.
3. I'm better: When I went for a job, I got a haircut, shined my shoes, carried the Wall Street journal. I knew how to make a good impression. Look at you, on the other hand.
4. Minimizing. I don't know why you should look so downcast. There is no reason for you to act that way. So one job didn't work out. So what? Big deal. Get over it. There will be others. It's not worth worrying about. It's not even talking about. Now wash your hands and get ready for dinner.
5. By criticizing. The trouble with you is you don't make a good first impression. You don't know how to appear confident. You are too fidgety, too nervous. You don't articulate. You don't look people in the eye. You don't have a good handshake. You need to work on yourself before you expect to get hired.
6. By pity & victimization. Oh, that is terrible. You must feel horrible. It doesn't seem fair does it? I don't know why he wouldn't hire you. It's not right. You should have gotten the job. What is wrong with that man? Why don't people like our family?
7. By blind faith. Everything happens for the best, honey. The must have been a reason you didn't get the job. It just wasn't meant to be. There is a reason for everything. Everything is just the way it should be. I guess it just wasn't written. It is not our place to question things like this. We just need to move past it and have faith that things will work out. Now, don't give it a second thought.
I have come to a frightening
"A modern teacher educates children to value their emotions."
He helps them recognize and respect their inner feelings. Above all, he is cautious not to confuse children about how they feel. he does not tell an angry child, "You have nothing to be angry about," or a frightened child, "There is nothing to be afraid of." He does not advise a child in pain to smile, or a bashful child not to be shy. he does not tell his class, "Pretend you are happy when you are not."
When a child is told, "There is nothing to be afraid of," his fear increases. The child gets thrice frightened: In addition to his original fear, he is now afraid to be afraid and fearful that he will not be able to hide his fright. Fear does not vanish when banished. It does not disappear when its existence is not recognized. When a child is afraid, it is best to acknowledge his fear openly and with respect.
Children resist hasty help. They experience it as a threat to their intelligence. Retrospectively, it makes them feel stupid. Neither is the child helped by quick reassurance:
The teacher listens to the problem, rephrases it, clarifies it, gives the child credit for formulating it, and then asks, "What options are open to you." Often the child himself comes up with a solution. Thus, he learns that he can rely on his own judgment. When a teacher hastily offers a solution, children miss the opportunity to acquire competence in problem solving and confidence in themselves.
Chapter -- 1 Young Teachers Talk About Teaching
Clara says: I am disappointed and disenchanted, because I wanted so much. I wanted to do good. I wanted to change the child, the school, the neighborhood, the world. How naive! I smiled at the rattlesnakes and the bit me, and now I too and full of poison.
Doris: I thought I loved kids, especially the children of the poor. I was aching to plunge in and give them my best, make up for their deprivation, convince them that they are smart and worthwhile. Instead they convinced me that I am dumb and weak.
Earl: I had no illusions so I am not disappointed. I knew the kids were rotten and the system corrupt. I never expected my efforts to make a difference. You wanted to empty the ocean with a broken ladle and you found out: mission impossible.
Florence: Everyday I come to school full of energy. I return home half dead. The noise drives me mad, it drowns out everything: my philosophy, my theories of learning, and all my good will. And all the time I am aware that I am under surveillance by big brother's roaming eye and ever present ear.
Grace: Every day I say to myself, "This is going to be a peaceful day. I am not going to get involved, I am not going to be provoked, lose my temper, and ruin my healthy." But everyday I lose control of myself in the classroom and I return home depressed and disgusted with myself.
I work in a poor neighborhood. People are prompt to take offense. They suspect you are slighting them. I have learned to listen and nod my head. I am afraid to talk.
I tried to be fair to all children, but I soon found out that I could not stand the bullies and the wise guys. I suppose they need too need sympathy and guidance, but I couldn't help them. I felt more like killing them, and they knew it.
Our principal says: "Let them hate you as long as they obey you." But we all know that children do not learn from a teacher they hate.
Bob: The system murders anything decent in us. There is no place for sensitive people in public schools. [Especially sensitive children] **
Grace: I could not get use to their language and conduct. The wanton destruction, dirty messes and four letter words. For some of my children "mother" is just half a word.
The battle for self-control exhausted my energy.
I agree with Bob and Earl, teaching belongs to those who are tough and who don't care.
Our principal loves vagueness and adores ambiguity. He delays decisions and postpones life. Whenever he is pressed for action, which become more and more abstract. Talking to him gives me the sensation of drowning in a sea of words.
Harold: Every criminal was educated by teachers. Every prison is a dramatic demonstration of the failure of our system.
Ira: There is no place for cynics in elementary school. The young need protection from adults with stone souls. **
One old teacher keeps giving me advice. "Escape while you are young. Look at me and run for your life. Teaching will kill you. It'll murder your spirit, drain your energy, and corrode your character.
My professors talked about children's needs, parents' needs and society's needs. I wish they had made me aware of my needs. p 32
Chapter 2 -- Teachers at their Best
P 39 Gives example of a child who was upset when he did not get a book because his last name begins with a Z and they ran out before they got to him. The teacher wrote him a note: "Paul, I know how sad you must feel. You waited for your new book eagerly, and suddenly-- such a disappointment. Everyone got a book except you. I personally am going to see to it that you get a new book."
Ginott says the boy then "calmed down, comforted by his teacher's warm words."
Then Ginott gives examples of what destructive teachers might have said:
Children need to learn to take disappointments in stride. Why do you make such a big deal over a book? So you didn't get it today, you will get it tomorrow. You are nine years old and still such a crybaby.
Wendy knocks over a bookcase and the teacher comes over starts to help without saying a word. Wendy says "I spoiled my first day in school. Everything is going wrong."
The teacher replies "It has been a rough morning for you." Wendy: It sure has, do you want to hear what happened? Teacher: Tell me
On page after page he gives examples of validation and empathy. (Though he never uses the word "validation.")
p 47 He talks about a teacher who had a student come up crying. She couldn't figure out why he was crying. But then she realized that it didn't really matter, thinking "He had come to me for comfort, not for diagnosis." **
[But Ginott doesn't talk about the teachers feelings and doesn't suggest the teacher express his/her feelings.]
Example of the girl getting the vaccine when she came back tearful. The teacher said, "It hurt didn't it?" She did not use cold logic by saying something like, "You needed it for your own good." She did not offer false reassurance saying "It won't hurt at all." [Nor did she invalidate the child by saying "It couldn't have hurt that much."
Instead she "recognized feelings, acknowledged wishes and offered a helpful gesture."
A child complains "You never call on me." The teacher says, "You really feel that way don't you?" "Yes! You never call on me." The teacher thanks him for bringing his feelings to her attention. And says "I will make a note of the way you feel so I won't forget."
One boy says to the teacher, "Julio knocked the wheels off my car!" Julio defends himself by saying it was an accident. The teacher says, "It is your new car, isn't it, Rudy?" Rudy says yes and stops crying. He is silent for a few moments then says "Oh, well I have another car at home."
The incident demonstrates the power of succinct and specific sympathy. She did not ask why he brought the car to school or why Julio broke it. Instead she focussed on the feelings. Reality took care of itself.
When teachers are at their best they display a common orientation: they do not believe in the power of pontification. They neither preach nor moralize. They give no guilt and demand no promises. **
They are not preoccupied with the child's past history or distant future, they deal with the present. What matters to them is the here and now of the child in distress. **
Chapter 3 -- Teachers at Their Worst
Some teachers work too hard. They spend time and wasted energy on battles that can be avoided and wars that can be prevented. In each school there is a gigantic waste of human resources. Time and talent are devoured by needless conflicts and useless quarrels. **
A teacher asked a child to make a choice and the child was taking his time in answering. The teacher said, "mind. We don't have all day. Make up your mind, if you have one."
Ginott says: A slow student is not cured by sarcasm. Mental processes are not mended by mockery. Ridicule breeds hate and invites vengeance. **
Ginott comes close to suggesting that teachers describe their feelings, giving this example: "Alfred, when the class is ready to begin, I find it annoying to see you still standing."
This is close to describing the teacher's personal emotional experience, but it is still an attack on the child and puts the child on the defensive, in effect blaming the child for the teacher's feelings.
When a child was having a problem with math, the teacher said: "Where were you when I explained the problem? You never listen. You always play. Now you want special attention. You are not the only one here. I can't hold special classes for you." [Six shots in a row]
A teacher said to a 9 year old when she didn't finish her assignment on time: "You are lazy, careless and irresponsible." After class the girl said to the teacher, "You evidently don't know me well. I am not lazy and careless. I care very much about my schoolwork. I try very hard to do my best. I come to your class for only 40 minutes, so perhaps you don't know me as my other teachers do."
The teacher responded: "You are a fresh young lady, that's what you are. And you have a big mouth. Tell your mother I want to see her in school to discuss her loud-mouthed daughter."
The girl returned home in tears.
Name calling is taboo for a pedagogue. **
What the teacher says about a child has serious consequences.
Gives example of a teacher who did not respect a child's need for privacy.
The teacher said, "Listen, you are like an open book to me. I know your personality. I can tell your moods. You got up on the wrong side of bed, didn't you?"
The child begged, "Please! Stop it!"
The teacher said, "What kind of talk is that, young lady? I have a mind to teach you a lesson in manners but I am going to spare you. You are upset and you don't even know it. I understand you better than you understand yourself."
The child covered her face and did not utter a word for the rest of the hour.
To tell a child "I understand you better than you do" is an act of emotional arrogance, akin to illegal trespassing.
Privacy is not to be intruded upon without invitation or permission. Self-disclosure requires a personal choice and the right to reticence. **
Example of teacher who invalidates a child using sarcasm and questioning the child's honesty. "I don't believe you. You must have done something. I know you. When it comes to an provoking, you are an expert."
"I didn't do anything, I just stood in the hall, minding my own business," the child protested in self-defense.
The teacher responded, "I am in the hall everyday, no one ever attacks me."
-- Elsewhere, Ginott suggests that the teacher have the child write down his feelings about an incident if the teacher doesn't have time to listen right then.
Ginott says "Verbal spankings do not improve performance or personality. They only ignite hate." **
Example of a child who had trouble opening a window. The teacher said "Can't you even open a window? Don't you know anything?"
Children are never sure of their abilities. A public attack on intelligence hits their most vulnerable spot. Virulent criticism doesn't motivate children to improve; on the contrary, it ruins their initiative. **
A story to illustrate how we all find ways to get revenge, even the most powerless:
A bossy man decided to change his behavior towards his personal cook. He called in the cook and said, "From now on I am going to be nice to you."
The cook asked, "If I am a little late with lunch you won't yell at me?"
"If the coffee is a little cold, you won't throw it in my face anymore?"
"If the steak is a little overcooked, you won't deduct its cost from my wages from now on?"
"That's right. From now on I am going to be nice to you. You have my word."
"Ok," said the cook, "then I will stop spitting in your soup."
Learning depends on the emotional climate engendered by empathy and civility. In their daily contacts with children, teachers must preserve these vanishing virtues.
He quotes James Joyce: History is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake up.
Every teacher can become aware of attitudes that alienate, words that insult and acts that hurt. He can acquire competence and caution in communication, and become less abrasive and less provocative. **
Chapter 4 -- Congruent Communication
How parents and teachers talk tell a child how they feel about him. [and how they feel about themselves is reflected in how they talk] **
Their statements affect his self-esteem and self-worth. To a large extent, their language affect his destiny. **
Parents and teachers need to eradicate the insidious messages that tell a child to distrust his perception, disown his feelings and doubt his worth. **
The prevalent, so called "normal" talk, drives children crazy-- the blaming and shaming, preaching and moralizing, ordering and bossing, admonishing and accusing, ridiculing and belittling, threatening and bribing, diagnosing and prognosing. These techniques vulgarize, brutalize and dehumanize children. Sanity depends on trusting ones inner reality. **
At their best, teachers address themselves to a child's situation. At their worst, they judge his character and personality. This in essence is the difference between effective and ineffective communication. **
For example, a child spills paint. A teacher can (A) address the situation by saying, "I see the paint has spilled, let's get some water and a towel, or (B) she can attack the child's personality and character: "What's the matter with you? You are so clumsy. Didn't I tell you to be careful? You never listen."
Ginott says the cardinal rule of communication is: talk to the situation, not the character and personality.
Hein says: I would say, "Talk to the feelings and not just the situation" is an even higher goal.
Hein says the feelings don't need to be addressed every time, but if they are addressed consistently and in the critical moments, then the situation can be addressed directly, problems solved efficiently and conflicts can be de-escalated smoothly. **
Ginott: An effective teacher does not play the role of a saint or act the part of an angel. She is aware of her human feelings and respects them. Though she can not always be patient, she is always authentic. His response is genuine. His words fit his feelings. He does not hide his annoyance. He does not pretend patience. He does not demonstrate hypocrisy when feeling nasty. **
An enlightened teacher is not afraid of his anger, because he has learned to express it without doing damage. He has mastered the secret of expressing anger without insult. **
Even under provocation, he does not call children abusive names. He does not attack their character or offend their personality. He does not tell them whom they resemble and where they will end up.
When angry, an enlightened teacher remains real. He describes what he sees, what he feels and what he expects. [Better to describe what he would like rather than what he expects. Expectations set up disappointment and disapproval]
He attacks the problem, not the person. He knows that when angry, he is dealing with more elements than he can control. He protects himself and safeguards his students by using "I messages."
Ginott says "I messages" are safer than statements such as:
You are a pest. You are annoying. Look what you have done. You are so stupid. Who do you think you are? How dare you?
Ginott does not realize there are primary feelings before anger, nor does he teach that events don't "make" us feel anything. In others he doesn't stress that teachers need to take responsibility for their own feelings. (As Thomas Gordon does)
We see these errors when Ginott suggests that teachers say: "It makes me angry when ..." p 87
Children are dependent on their teachers, and dependency breeds hostility. **
To reduce hostility a teacher deliberately provides children with opportunities to experience independence. The more autonomy, the less enmity; the more self-dependence, the less resentment of others.
Then he gives a couple of examples.
Avoiding commands is another effective method of decreasing defiance. ** Like adults, children hate to be ordered around, dictated to, and bossed. They resent infringements on autonomy. The resist a teacher less when his communications convey respect and safeguard self-esteem.
Then he gives a few examples. But he doesn't give examples of the teacher expressing her feelings.
He still advocates teachers saying what "needs" to be done, what is "supposed" to be done, etc. However, at points he does indirectly suggest that it is not always necessary for the teacher to spell out what needs to be done. Rather, he says that "the teacher merely describes the situation. What needs to be done becomes obvious in the context. p 92 It is the child's conclusion, not the adult's command. **
Self inferred decisions decrease defiance, and reduce resistance and invite collaboration. **
He gives a positive example of a teacher who says: I deliberately avoid provoking defensive responses in the classroom. My communications omit pressure phrases: You must... you had better... I want to win cooperation without resorting to guilt and fear. I resist the temptation to turn requests and demands into moralistic judgments.
Another teacher: I have given up polemics in the classroom. My arguments only brought counter-arguments to justify defiance and postpone compliance. It is easier to gain cooperation by changing moods than by changing minds. ** p 95
Teachers are told that children need understanding and acceptance. What they are not told is how to convey it under difficult classroom conditions.
Then he gives some examples.
p 97 He says sentences beginning with "you" are best used when responding to the child's plight, complaint or request. The effective "you message" has the following qualities:
Labeling is disabling.
He gives an example of a teacher who "in one minute managed to violate several tenets of effective education. He diagnosed, labeled and embarrassed a person in public. He offended him and his family and gave gloom warnings and doom predictions.
Recommendation: in dealing with students avoid diagnosis and prognosis. Do not delve into the case history of the child or his family.
Once teachers assimilate the principle of "no labeling," they become more helpful even in difficult moments.
An enlightened teacher learns to omit questions that make a child feel foolish, guilty, enraged and vengeful. He deliberately avoids questions and comments that are likely to incite resentment and invite resistance.
A teacher's question is not an abstraction to a child. It has concrete consequences for his life.
A child experiences hostile inquiries as a rack on which his life is stretched for painful scrutiny.
The following 13 destructive "whys" were asked by a fifth grade teacher in one day of instruction:
- why can't you be good for a change? - why are you so selfish? - why do you have to fight with everybody? - why can't you be like other children? - why must you interrupt everybody? - why can't you keep your mouth shut once in a while? - why are you so slow? - why do you always rush? - why must you be such a pest? - why are you so disorganized? - why are you such a busybody? - why do you forget everything I tell you? - why are you so stupid?
To children "why" stands for disapproval, disappointment and displeasure. Even a simple "why did you do that?" may evoke the memory of [and the same feelings as] "why in the world did you ever do something as stupid as that?"
Elaborating on what Ginott says:
Once upon a time "why" was a term of inquiry, now it is a term of inquisition.
It's original meaning has long vanished. It was corrupted by the misuse of "why" as a coin of criticism, judgment, and attack.
Ginott talks about how children often come up with comments that seem unrelated to the lesson and how this annoys some teachers. Other teachers, though, show respect to the child by responding positively to the comment, even if it appears unrelated to the topic at hand.
This alerts us to the danger that of the teacher who becomes too task oriented. Or more specifically the danger that the teacher is misguided believing that the task of teaching the subject is more important than the task of satisfying each individual child's emotional needs.
He says "A teacher with an acid tongue is a health hazard. His caustic comments deflate self-esteem and block learning. Hurt children grow preoccupied with revenge fantasies." **
Then he gives examples of remarks made by teachers "non-chalantly, almost without awareness of their tragic impact."
- You are relying on your own judgment again and believe me, it is a poor guide
- Do you think you can come back to your senses? You have been out of them for quite a while.
- Your intelligence is not good enough for this class. Why don't you transfer to a school more commensurate with your disabilities?
- You don't need a psychologist. You need a vacuum cleaner. Your mind is cluttered with junk.
There is no place for devastating remarks in teacher-child communication. **
A professional teacher shuns comments that casually destroy a child's self-esteem. A teacher's role is to heal, not injure.
A teacher with a critical disposition and a gifted tongue has a grave responsibility: He must protect young children from his deadly talent, either by learning new ways of communicating or by choosing another calling.
[but if one is negative, cynical, sarcastic, it will be impossible to hide the true feelings by simply changing behavior]
(stopped on p 110...jump to p 117)
"For children, learning is never without emotional overtones. Whenever a teacher ignores the emotions and resorts to logical explanations, learning limps to a halt." **
jumping to Chapter 5 - The Perils of Praise
True or false: Praise is productive. Praise is destructive.
Ginott says both statements are true. Evaluative praise is destructive, appreciative praise is productive.
In psychotherapy a child is never told, you are a good little boy, you are doing great. Judgmental praise is avoided. Why? Because it creates anxiety, invites dependency and evokes defensiveness. It is not conducive to self-reliance, self-direction and self-control.
These qualities demand freedom from outside judgment. They require reliance on inner motivation and evaluation. To be himself, one needs to be free from the pressure of evaluative praise. **
In praising, appreciate specific acts. Do not evaluate character traits.
Avoid praise that attaches adjectives to a child's character.
Children need praise that appreciates not praise that compares or condescends. p 137
Praise describes a child's efforts and accomplishments and our feelings about them. It does not evaluate personality or judge character. The cardinal rule in praising is describe without evaluating- report don't judge. Leave the evaluation of the child to him. **
skipping to Chapter 6 Discipline
The essence of discipline is finding effective alternatives to punishment.
To punish a child is to enrage him and make him uneducable. He becomes a hostage of hostility. A captive of rancor. A prisoner of vengeance.
Suffused with rage and absorbed in grudges, a child has no time or mind for studying.
In discipline whatever generates hate must be avoided, whatever creates self-esteem is to be fostered. **
Skipping ahead past Chapter 7 -When parents and teacher clash & Chapter 8- Homework
Chapter 9 Tales of Motivations
p 240 Children can be lured into learning, they can be tempted and hooked on it; but they cannot be shamed into it.
When forced to study, children use their ingenuity to get through school without learning. **
Skipping chapter 10 Helpful procedures and practices
Chapter 11 Adult Encounters
p 287 A professional knows that when things go wrong, first aid, not criticism is needed. ** (Talking about administration)
Chapter 12 Students recall their teachers.
Math teacher who made them feel like a zero
Epilogue is excellent.... But I ran out of room on my tape recorder!
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