This is my letter to the world :)

My whole life has been a fight. Sometimes fierce, sometimes desperate, sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes meaningless, sometimes foolish… The list can go on, but the point is that my fight has shaped who I am today. The wounds made me stronger, the victories made me more confident, the losses made me more stubborn. There were moments when I was on the point to give in. There were moments when I thought it useless. There were moments when I stopped dreaming. There were moments when I stopped to dream. There were so many moments, and there were so few seconds when I had time to think about the fight itself.

Indeed, once fighting breaks out it becomes quite challenging to master my emotions. If control isn’t lost totally, there’s the slight hope that I won’t be drained of all energy. Yet, usually it’s quite the opposite as every single fiber of my being takes active part in the fight. It gets high, it gets low, it goes from one extreme to another. The ride is far from smooth. Yet, somehow I end up taking it, willingly, yet recklessly. I trust my gut, even when it’s wrong. I need this fight. I need it for my growth. I need it to understand something. I need it to discover the novelty of the old forgotten lore. I just need it.

Recently I have been told to stop fighting. The point is that the whole concept of my fight was totally misunderstood. Somehow, people tend to think that I’m fighting somebody. That I have entered a fierce competition where I want to prove that I am better than somebody else.

I do know my strengths and weaknesses. I do know when I can be more competent than somebody else, and I do know when I can be less competent than somebody else. But I never fight against somebody as this fight is totally useless, a lost fight from the very beginning. My fight is within. I fight against ME, MYSELF and I. These are my true nemeses.

So while meddling with my fights, just take a deep breath and relax. Don’t rush to judge where angels fear to tread.

The fight goes on.

Keep fighting to become what you want to be 😉

THIS is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,—
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.

Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

Emily Dickinson

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What’s (un)real?

So here we are, in the middle of nowhere, heading God knows where.

So what does exactly this sentence say? It is difficult to state for sure. The first question mark is who the the heck is meant by ‘we’? Oh, this sweet tendency to include someone just for the sake of feeling this sense of inclusion, of belonging. So I’m not alone, there’s at least another person feeling the same. Another illusion feeding one’s ego and illusory stability. But, ‘we’ is just a fancy. And the brain is just feeding one’s primary needs, it doesn’t give instructions as to what to consider real. If the brain wants to consider it real it’s going to be real no matter what the others tell.

The second question, where’s ‘nowhere’ and if the destination is possible to find, why has one positioned themselves in the middle. Why not at the beginning? Why not at the end? What makes the middle so appealing? Is it about the fact that it’s the closest either to the end or to the beginning? Or is it just another commonplace word combination which feeds one’s ego of wittiness and originality?

Then why ‘heading’? Why is there this constant temptation to move forward? Why is it wrong to turn left or right? Yet, there’s something I particularly like about this verb. The very fact that this example of conversion is mind blowing. Heading the head towards the glorious future. Nonsense, but what implication. For me personally, this is the movement upwards, maybe to the stars. Leaving the trite metaphors apart, a movement meant to trace one’s growth, one’s development, and not stagnation.

And here comes the name of God, and welcome stagnation. What’s the use of mentioning God when it’s not clear what is there to be said, whereas the meaning is lost before even encoding the message? On the one hand, the name of God loses its authority, and there’s no more awe felt whenever the name is mentioned. And then why is God supposed to know something which we think we don’t know?

So here we are where we are and, while trying hard to pose as sage, look silly and incomprehensible to ourselves. Yet, none is to admit the (un)truth about our character. God knows why.

‘I know that I know nothing’.


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Sometimes life is far more complex than fiction

So while scrolling the news feed I came across this piece of news and I immediately remembered James Thurber’s fable The Tigress and Her Mate. I think combining both could make an interesting lesson with so many issues to be debated.

USA: Indianapolis Zoo staff ‘devastated’ after lion killed by lioness

The Tigress and Her Mate

MORAL: Never be mean to a tiger’s wife, especially if you’re the tiger.

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Revelation or the story of a hat

So it’s been a while (and most probably a while will pass) since I last wrote a post on my personal blog. I wonder why. Probably waffling on is not my forte. Or maybe I have nothing to say at all. Nevertheless it’s good to come back from time to time to a place where you can share some thoughts and feel no pressure of academic writing. 🙂

Now that I’ve got into Wordsworth’s ‘pensive mood’  I keep repeating these particular two lines:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

So something extraordinary happened in my boringly exciting life this summer. I participated in the International Researcher Development Week organised by the University of Granada. A wonderful experience, full of interesting sessions and discoveries. I diligently attended all the events organised by the staff and was impressed by their professionalism, on the one hand, and by the University’s various labs and research hubs making a real change in people’s lives, on the other. Definitely the very first warning uttered by one of the organizers at our very first meeting didn’t stick in my mind. I distinctly remember him advising all the attendees to buy a hat as the ‘Granadian’ sun is merciless, particularly at the end of July.

So the first four days ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, bareheaded. Needless to say that at that time I felt good. Yet, On Thursday afternoon I realized that I was totally worn out. So that was the result of the sun’s gentle pat on my head. So I bought a hat on Thursday evening and decided that that would count for the already passed four days. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

At the closing ceremony I felt OK. A bit dizzy but OK. That Friday I walked up to Alhambra (the famous palace and fortress in Granada) with my hat on. I felt empowered. I had the hat, so the sun couldn’t do any harm to me. The next day, a fantastic trip to the Mediterranean Sea. Wow. That was something! A person who claims she can’t swim swam and swam and made it alive to the shore. I felt like a fish in the sea (not as gracious as a dolphin but still OK). I felt at home! Yet, I did it again. I left my hat on the shore as it was far too beautiful to be watered in the salty sea. In addition, there was wind and there was a big chance that one dolphin might end up wearing my hat so I would leave it on the shore every time I would go for a swim (and trust me I stayed more in the sea than on the shore).

Feeling ecstatic I  payed little attention to the sun’s grin. I came back home and was looking forward to the next day. ‘Oh Alhambra, I’ve heard so much about you. I’m coming.’ To be on the safe side I decided to walk to Alhambra in the afternoon to know exactly how much it would take me to get there on foot. When I got to bed at night I knew exactly when to start off in order to be on time there the next day. I paid little attention to the fact that I felt quite unwell. I told myself that the best therapy is a good night’s sleep.

In the morning one of my friends strongly advised me to take the bus to Alhambra. But stubbornness is my second name. So while I said ‘Yes’ to her I walked to the dream castle. I would stop on my way as I felt dizzy, but I made it. I was on top of Granada. ‘Alhambra, here I am!’

Once there, guess where did I go first? Exactly, to the bathroom (I apologize for this detail but it’s an indispensable part of our life). So, with my hat on, I went to see what exactly I would do after I have visited the palace (I was scheduled to enter it at 12.00). So I discovered there are plenty of places to visit afterwards (and I would definitely do that, I had my hat on)! Yet, I started feeling more than dizzy. So I decided to sit down next to a wall and patiently wait for 11.45 (the time when I should stand in the queue to enter the palace). While sitting there I did my best to convince myself that I would make it.

11.45 – I queued. 11.50 (more or less) – I fainted. And, God, I was lucky! Just seconds before passing out, a Red Cross doctor was passing by. I stopped her. I apologized. I fainted. So I woke up lying on the stones to the palace, my hat one stone away.

The Red Cross Lady was doing her best to bring me to my senses. She was talking in Spanish and  I was talking in English (which didn’t work). Then I started talking in Italian and it worked. We managed to understand each other. A wheelchair appeared out of the blue. It had the effect of a pumpkin turning into a carriage on me. I was taken to the resting room. Somebody took my hat.

I think I was there for quite a while. There are not enough words to thank the Red Cross Lady who, unlike me, was sure that I would eventually get to the palace that day. She even called someone to ask if I could enter after I got better. She gave me some syrup to drink. She took my blood pressure. She felt my pulse. She even made sure my sugar was OK. And then she gave me my hat to put it on my head.

As I couldn’t lie there forever she advised me to go home, have a rest and then get back in the evening. So she called a taxi and the distance to Alhambra became larger and larger with ‘every wheel the taxi took’.

At home I went straight to bed. It was quite disappointing to find an empty house. I thought that my friends would pat me and say ‘Poor thing’, instead they were having fun swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. I slept till evening and every time I woke up I worried I would not be able to sleep at night. Yet, I had a great night’s sleep. So my body had its revenge on me. My recklessness cost me a fortune. And it was not about the ticket (it was about 20 Euro), it was all about the experience I would have got.

The next morning I was already waiting for the plane to Barcelona in a cafe at the airport. My hat was carefully placed on the sit next to mine. I still felt dizzy and angry with myself. I had no idea how I was supposed to survive alone in Barcelona the week ahead. Then I pitied myself. Then I encouraged myself. Then I said I would make it. Then I went to check in. Then I got on board. Then I was up in the sky. And my hat was left on that sit at the airport of Granada. We had only three adventurous days together!

So Barcelona, here I was. Bareheaded, again! This time I bought a hat on the very day of my arrival. But this is the story of another hat. So maybe another time when I’m ‘in pensive mood’, again, I’ll write the story of the second hat. Meanwhile Wordsworth was a genius. At the time I did not think of this adventure as something worth remembering, now I cherish every single detail of my wonderful stay in Granada.

I hope no one will mind the change I’ve made to the last line of Wordsworth’s poem:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with Granada.


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‘New Generation School Teacher’ project is my cup of hot lemonade on a winter day in Lviv. A metaphor.

I’ve been a teacher for a while and I like flattering myself that teaching is my cup of tea. It’s an ongoing life-changing experience where challenges should be seen as opportunities, whereas changes as inevitabilities. Actually, teaching should involve letting a fresh challenge become a refreshing change. And it just dawned on me on a lonely winter evening.

I was in the middle of an elaborate process of choosing the perfect cup of tea which will warm me up. My experience told me to choose the traditional black tea, its strong flavour would immediately lift my spirit. I was arduously studying the long list of different types of tea, weighing which would produce what specific effect.

Then I saw the word ‘lemonade’ and laughed to myself. I thought who on earth would want a lemonade in winter?! It’s cold enough outside to make it even colder. And then, just below lemonade, there was ‘hot lemonade.’ Come on, this is ridiculous, hot sweetened lemon juice, who on earth thought of it?!

I turned to the long list of black teas. That list was my comfort zone. I knew there would be no surprises, just the usual trustworthy cup of tea. However, the idea of making a change gripped me and I couldn’t get rid of it. How can I judge the effectiveness of something if I don’t try it? Why do I have to laugh away an idea without experiencing it?
So I ordered hot lemonade. I went upstairs and sat down at the window. Lviv was still cold and white and my lemonade was hot and yellow. I took the first sip and felt the thrill of novelty. It was unusually refreshing. It was different from the quite tiresome obviousness of black tea. It was sour sweet, it was pleasant with an acid overtone. It was a way of approaching Lviv differently.

I knew that change was something to look forward to. I knew that once the change was embraced there was no way back. I knew that teaching can be a cup of hot lemonade, too. And it’s up to me to add a few mint leaves or not. I just should give it a try. Now I have to continue my active experimentation. Though it’s very difficult, I have to admit.

These are some of my underlying beliefs )))

hot lemonade mint

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When teachers make mistakes

I always look for ways to make the learning process more inspiring. It turns quite challenging to actually motivate learners. Sometimes they seem to be so disconnected and bored that you might be on the point to give up. Yet, cracking a joke and making a radical change always help.

However, there’s another motivational strategy one should consider applying. I’ve discovered that students get extremely satisfied when they manage to trace a mistake a teacher has made. Their satisfaction is hard to describe. They feel so empowered and, above all, so inspired that one might seriously consider making mistakes more often.

So instead of shaming students, one should actually encourage to openly criticize the teacher, and to look for mistakes. The idea is that learners should not look at the teacher as the ultimate source of information, but rather as a source to challenge.

Learning will be great fun if learners are detectives who investigate, question, discover. Pure heaven 🙂

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Nowadays there are so many methods to facilitate the learning process. They are all worth considering and worth using in the classroom, at least to take the risk to try one to see if it works. However, what made me think was to what degree the socio-cultural context is taken into consideration.

We often get over-enthusiastic about a certain approach and apply it unconditionally, and love it so much, but is it really helping our students? What if the students do not want it? Sometimes, the educator is totally convinced that his/her approach is the best ever (in developing certain skills). Yet, being so in love with the approach he/she does not manage to understand the students’ resistance and lack of motivation. What to do then?

I was surprised today to discover that what was meant to be a collaboration turned into ‘you do your bit and don’t bother about the rest’. During a workshop (which caused quite a lot of confusion at first as I couldn’t understand what exactly it was about), students believed that I was one of them. So they didn’t bother to explain to me what the task was all about. I was, in fact, bothering them with questions, yet they weren’t able to explain anything to me.

On top of everything I think I was quite a nuisance to them as I insisted on knowing what the others were planning to say. However, all my attempts were in vain, and what killed me was ‘Don’t fret that much. We always do like this. Just read your part’.

I accepted the rules of their game. But I swear to God I experienced one of the most awkward moments ever. So I was standing in front having to say what I was supposed to say without even knowing what the others would say. So I discovered that together with the audience. To say that I was confused is to say nothing. (But I assume confusion is my state of being.) Yet, the thing that crossed my mind that very moment was a quote I once came across. It said that one can make a person unhappy, even if the latter doesn’t want to. But one can’t make a person happy if the latter doesn’t want to.

So education is also a matter of choice. Students want to embrace a change and see its benefits, or refuse to see anything positive and focus exclusively on drawbacks. And I think that this resistance is closely related to the socio-cultural context one lives in.

I don’t know. But how to help students see the obvious, the light, if they keep their eyes shut. Probably educators should follow Churchill’s advice: ‘Never, never, never give up’. Good luck to me and to everybody. There’s a looooong way ahead. Let’s enjoy the process. 🙂

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