Converse One And All

Social NetworkingWe are surrounded by communication, we are all connected, to a greater or lesser degree, to almost every other human being on the planet. So when it might be nice to have a quiet moment of contemplation occasionally , we should embrace the sentiment in Sensei’s message …

The age when silence was considered an indication of wisdom is over. This is an age of the people, an age of dialogue, a time when people must share their opinions and thoroughly discuss things. To withdraw into an isolated world of quiet contemplation leads to defeat in life.

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.

So Many Contrasts

Upton Country ParkYesterday and today could not have been much more different if they had tried. Yesterday I spent most of the day encouraging, cajoling and a couple of times, pushing someone to conquer a task that in actual fact, was way outside their comfort zone, namely cycling the fifty odd kilometres from Poole to Weymouth. That involved a great deal of talking, as you might expect.

Today, I have spent the whole day alone, apart from one chance encounter this evening as I got back from a short training ride to Upton Country Park and back. So I haven’t spoken to anyone, I haven’t spent hours in the saddle and I haven’t had the opportunity to help anyone, in any way, achieve anything.

Yesterday, the cycling, although much longer than my ride tonight, was very gentle, even over a couple of quite challenging hills. Today, the course was short and pretty flat, but the effort put in was aggressive and the effect on my increasing fitness was considerable compared to yesterday. I didn’t see any of the scenery today, whereas yesterday, there was time to stop and admire.

Life is a series of contrasting situations. Being able to adapt to the changing circumstances is the trick to taking the most out of each and every day. Contrast is good, being able to focus on the benefits it brings is a skill worth acquiring.

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