Forever Reading

Forever ReadingDaisaku Ikeda, in his book, Buddhism Day By Day, says this about the act of reading:

‘Reading is dialogue with oneself; it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is therefore essential to our development.

It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth many blossom-laden branches.

People who can say of a book ‘this changed my life’ truly understand the meaning of happiness. Reading that sparks inner revolution is desperately needed to escape drowning in the rapidly advancing information society.

Reading is more than intellectual ornamentation; it is a battle for the establishment of the self, a ceaseless challenge that keeps us young and vigorous.’

We all know which book ‘changed my life’, and I can confirm that I fully understand the meaning of the happiness that this encompasses. Books transformed civilisation in the broadest sense when they became widely available via the printing presses of William Caxton and all those who have followed.

The advent of the world wide web and the internet has simply taken that process to the Nth level. The dissemination of information, and the written word has never been so widespread. Although there are associated dangers and we must be circumspect about the source of the information we consume, there has never been an easier time to read.

During my CELTA course I read to expand my knowledge of the English language, currently I am reading to increase my understanding of psychology and the workings of the mind. Whatever we read, be it fact or fiction, it adds to the kaleidoscope of facts and emotions locked in our brains, so read and read and read again, it will never be a waste of your precious time.

The Joy Of Creating A Life

The Colour Of JoyNo need to panic folks, there is no impending patter of tiny feet or anything like that. But it’s been an interesting year for me so far.

Having put in the effort to get my CELTA, I’m now teaching again. Having taken strides to become more involved in the vegan community, in and around Bournemouth, I have forged new relationships.

Sensei has some very wise words to elaborate the reasons why such events have brought joy into my life …

There is no one lonelier or more unhappy than a person who does not know the pure joy of creating a life for himself or herself. To be human is not merely to stand erect and manifest intelligence or knowledge. To be human in the full sense of the word is to lead a creative life.

The struggle to create new life from within is a truly wonderful thing. There is found the brilliant wisdom that guides and directs the workings of reason; the light of insight that penetrates the farthest reaches of the universe; the undaunted will to see justice done that meets and challenges all the assaults of evil; the spirit of unbounded care that embraces all who suffer.

When these are fused with that energy of compassion that pours forth from the deepest sources of cosmic life, an ecstatic rhythm arises to colour the lives of all people.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

On The Fiddle?

On The Fiddle?In case you were wondering, my CELTA course is going rather well, all things considered. Apart from the fact that I am really enjoying the whole experience, it’s a bit like Chinese water torture, the lesson preparation and assignments just keep coming.

Last night was a little milestone on our collective path, half way through the sixteen weeks of study and a brand new gaggle of victims, or more properly, teaching practice students. A lovely group of people, all very keen to learn and very willing to be subjected to our formative teaching skills.

As well as being a new set of faces, these students are still taking their first steps in learning English, as opposed to our previous charges, who were really quite fluent. So the challenges, on both sides of the classroom, were slightly different. There was more emphasis on keeping things simpler and checking that individual students understood what was being taught.

The evening went really well. We were teaching them new vocabulary in the context of music, and they worked really hard. The highlight of the evening, for me, was talking to the oldest student, an 83 year old Middle Eastern gentleman, who was keen to tell me that he has been playing the violin since he was 7. He had the callouses on his fingers to prove it.

It’s so interesting, meeting new people. People who have incredible stories to tell. None of this would have happened had I not made the causes. Karma is a wonderful thing.

L For Learning

L for LearningMy first CELTA evening class went very well last night. An enthusiastic, if slightly overwhelmed group of ten students, we were expertly corralled by our tutors, Emma and Stef, through the course introduction, grand tour and Receptive Skills overview. Roughly five hours of paperwork, listening, learning and above all, fun.

Being immersed into a classroom environment, learning new skills, preparing for a completely new career, is really rather exciting. New terms, new ideas, new jargon an mnemonics, it’s like learning a new language. Ironic in a way, as teaching a new language is what we are being taught to do.

I just love learning now. Why did I never feel this way back in school? Was it me, was it the teachers, was it simply because I had to sit there and suffer in silence? I imagine it was a bit of all three put together. There were certainly teachers I liked, some I hated, and a very few I absolutely loved, Mrs Winfield being maybe the most memorable.

I am really enjoying the part-time teaching I am doing. I think the students enjoy the classes. I really try to mix it up each lesson, so they are engaged and not bored by the same style each time. CELTA is a tough course, but if I get half way to being as good a teacher as Mrs Winfield, I’ll be chuffed to bits.

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