Feeling… not bad :)

I love small acts of kindness. And I’m definitely super excited when someone does good to me. I still think that deep down, people are not bad, just sometimes it’s rather difficult to see the good side in them. It’s hidden so well. Be good, and good things will happen to you. I just felt like sharing these thoughts today. Even more, I think something wonderful is going to happen. Never stop believing in miracles 😉 I don’t know maybe I’ve already entered the Christmas mood, but this is the way I feel. Why not have this mood all year round? 🙂

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On Honesty

Have you ever thought how ready a person is to hear the truth, and nothing but the truth? Indeed, we want honesty, but what kind of honesty do we want to hear? What if you don’t need such truth? What if you’re not ready to face the consequences of that honesty? What if you’re not ready to see the vulnerable, hidden side of the person who’s being honest with you? What to do with that burden? But above all, how to avoid showing the same vulnerability, and openness to that person?

So to be or not be honest? This is the question!

Surprisingly, people might get scared and hide when being told what would not fit into their own definition of honesty. Sometimes people aren’t simply ready to accept and admit what they don’t want to hear. So they want to hear only things they ask for, without even considering the other person’s perception of honesty.  But why not establish from the very beginning to what extent a person should be honest, and how much truth a person asks for?

It’s funny how people claim that they want the truth, but how reluctant they are to actually accept it. They freak out so much that in their numbness and stupor they leave the impression that they do not care about honesty at all.  Moreover, they might end up hurting the person who was vulnerably honest.

Who would be the loser and who would be the winner in such a case? But are there losers and winners? Quite difficult to say. If you pay attention one loses, and the other acquires, yet they both  did not want it. Honesty hopes to acquire, and not lose; whereas, it might be quite the opposite.

So, I got confused. Yet, my belief is that one should stay true to oneself, no matter what. And if honesty is the best policy for them, they should be honest and true to themselves above all. Those they confided to either will end up appreciating it or will distance themselves. And let’s look at the bright side, this person will win: in the first scenario, they will find a similarly honest person ready to show their vulnerability in return; in the second, they will know that such people cannot be trusted. 🙂

 

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Two months ago…

Time flies. Gleefully, sometimes mockingly, but it never stops. The only solution would be to join it in its flight so that one could enjoy life. It’s nonsense to make at least the slightest attempt to stop it. To say nothing about tricking it into changing its direction. There’s no way time will turn backwards. The flight goes upward. And here’s the charm: one could enjoy the scenery and views from the above and feel the awe in front of the breathtaking beauty that novelty is bound to bring into one’s life.

It’s scary. Everything that takes one’s breath away is scary, but worth taking the risk. I, for once, am afraid of heights. Nonetheless, I joined the flight. The only thing that keeps me from falling is avoiding looking back. I know the moment I look back I will lose my balance and I might fall into the abyss of various memories and frustrations. Yet, the promising light ahead has been far too strong to let me lose my balance. So I focus on it. I long for it. I give in to it. And this is how I’ve got my light within.

It’s a promising light, full of warmth and tenderness. I just have to be focused, and never falter to answer its call. I have to make sure other distracting dark matters, appealing in their own way, do not distract me from my path. It’s easy if you trust the light within. It’s easy if listen to the light within. It’s easy if you keep the light within.

So two months ago I made a decision. It was early in the morning when I said to myself that the self-destructive dark matter must be silenced once and for all. I cannot say that I’ve been totally successful. The temptation to look back is always on its guard. It seizes every single moment when I’m down. Yet, I’m still strong. I’m still standing. I just have to listen to my gut. It will guide to where my light is.

If on August 12th I was scared, now I’m still scared but I know that I am daring and strong enough to keep the light within alive. The fear will never probably totally disappear, and maybe it’s not so bad to experience it in small doses (recklessness is still to be avoided 🙂 ). But I know for sure it doesn’t have any power over me. There’s the light ahead and within that will keep me safe and sane 😉

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Fear less is far from being fearless

What is this life if full of fear / We have no guts to live and … prosper. 😊

When was the last time fear kept you from doing something you maybe had dreamed all your life? Something reckless? Something daring? Something audacious? Something … which is even difficult to describe?

Why does that something, so far away from you and yet so part of your being, make you so fearful? What is there at stake? What is there to lose?

Doesn’t fear keep us from actually living? Yet, fear is vital for our survival. And here we are! Trapped! Both fearful and fearless, somewhere in between. Feigning courage and nurturing fear.

And at the end, there’s only one thing left to be said

‘Whatever!’

😊

A fearlessly fearful heart…

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Teacher autonomy: myth or reality?

Spoiler alert! Just some random thoughts, partially strongly subjective, on how some teachers of English like to shift responsibility on the so-called entity: the Ministry.

So here I am again baffled and puzzled, confused and bamboozled. I am so I-can’t-find-the-right-adjective that I don’t know what to start with.

Shall I start with the excitement I experienced when I had the opportunity to attend a training in Lvov organized by the British Council? At first, I got confused, but then I realized what a great reform they are trying to implement in the system of the English language education. They were trying not only to shatter the established, fossilized methodologies from the glorious past, which are not working in the 21st century context, but also to offer new methodologies which will respond to the 21st century learner’s needs. (Yet I have to admit that there’s still A LOT of work to be done!)

Shall I start with the teachers’ unwillingness to fight for their rights?

Shall I start with the training-sessions/workshops teachers attend regularly but seem to forget ?

Shall I start with the excuse I hear all the time ‘This is what the Ministry tells us to do’?

Shall I start with the learners’ total lack of motivation to study?

Shall I start with the assumption that our education system is broken and our learners are not adequately prepared to meet the new 21st century demands?

Shall I start with the Facebook shared videos about the Finnish education system? Oh, yes! It is so praised and admired! But if everybody likes it so much why can’t they start doing something?

Shall I start with the fact that a student’s book (manual, in our context) is a resource impossible to be SARS-ed? It turns our the Ministry does not allow it. But who says so? Nobody knows.

Shall I start with the fact that lesson plans, these necessary signposts guiding teachers throughout the lesson, are not to be actually used by the teacher? How come the Ministry tells us AGAIN to write confusing and unrealistic lesson plans?

Or shall I start with a bedtime story?

Once upon a time teachers were writing objectives meant to develop their learners’ skills. Then the competence craze began. ‘What shall we do now,’ teachers asked desperately one another. Then the Ministry said: ‘No worries. Remember you were writing the objectives ”By the end of the lesson the learners will be able to share ideas about how the internet has changed our lives”, now just use the gerund ”sharing ideas about how the internet has changed our lives.” And, here it is, the shift from an objective-based curriculum to a competence-based curriculum. You see it’s as easy as pie.’ And the teachers started turning verbs into gerunds, feeling empowered, yet confused. But who cares? All’s well that ends well.

THE END

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Learner autonomy: myth or reality?

We as language educators rely so much on learner autonomy. Yet, how realistic is it to expect students to take responsibility for their own learning when they don’t know how to do it? What shall we do if in the traditional classroom they were not encouraged to think critically?

So here we are amid a growing flow of unmotivated students whose higher order thinking skills (HOTs) have’t been developed at school at all. They are lost, and confused, because the outdated system of education does nothing but demotivate them. We cannot expect things that worked even 10 years ago to be fully functioning nowadays. We cannot expect our students to think critically if what they did at school was to obey the teacher.

So one of the main tasks to do now is to empower the students to take full responsibility for their learning. It’s quite challenging, to say the least. For example, they are so used to the teacher-centered classroom that they do not know what to do in a student-centered classroom. They would prefer to stay in the comfort zone of drilling exercises than actually critically approach a problem. They’re so used to learning by heart that it’s quite difficult for them to question the need of all that learning. What’s more, they are quite helpless when it comes to transfer that knowledge into practice. So what’s the use of learning by heart, when you’re unable to solve a problem using that knowledge.

I’d like to share my experience, which was quite discouraging. However, I was encouraged by the students not to think of it as a failure but as a step further towards success; the exact wording was: ‘You’re on your right way.’ 🙂

I covered some grammar issues. I chose the flipped strategy. It did not quite work as expected. Yet, we did our best. When I asked the students to look through some exercises so that we discuss what was causing problems, they did not do anything at all, as, in their opinion, no homework had been given to them. The point is that they devoted zero time to English at home. As long as the students are not assigned tasks they won’t do anything.

When I asked them to get ready to debate whether or not money can solve all problems (something which has been started in the classroom), they again came totally unprepared. When asked what steps they had taken to be ready for the debate, the answer I got was that they had thought. OK. Thinking is good. How exactly? What exactly did you do? The trouble was they could not explain what they had done at home. Nor could they use those ‘thoughts’ in the debate (that would be a very strong word for what we managed to have 🙂 ).

I don’t blame the students. They seem to be nice, intelligent people who happen to be lost. It’s true that they lack motivation. But again I would argue that this is due to various factors. And one of them is fear. They are afraid to express their point of view. They are afraid to make mistakes. They are afraid to question a teacher’s statements/choices/decisions. They are afraid to take responsibility for their own learning (it’s actually the easiest thing to do as there will be no one to blame later on).

I always encourage students to ask themselves:

  • Why does she ask us to do it?
  • What does she want us to achieve at the end?
  • How will I benefit from this?

I think that sometimes the choices I make are not quite clear to them. They seem to lack awareness of the importance of doing a more thought-provoking, open-ended activity instead of a close-ended, drilling one. Actually, when asked what, in their opinion, my role is, the answer I got was to teach, to instruct. They do not see me as the one scaffolding the learning process. And they totally don’t see me as one collaborating with them to achieve OUR goals. So I’m that ‘ogre’ whose primary purpose is to punish if the slightest attempt at disobedience is made. 🙂

I think this is the problem of a society where fear has been used to control the masses. Undeniably, fear is a good primary emotion. It contributed to the survival of the human species. Yet, the more the humans evolved, the more their brain developed. So why not use it to think 🙂 Why not broaden our views? Why not try to understand? Why not stand one’s grounds? Respectfully and providing solid arguments, of course.

It is true that will involve much more mental effort, but this is what we have the brain for. It is true we will have to leave our comfort zone, but only by doing so does learning happen. It is true we will have no one to blame but ourselves, but this is how we will become more competent. It is true we will have to stop taking everything for granted, but this is how we will be able to make informed choices. So there’s work to do, but it’s worth it.

I’m not giving up! Do you?

Suggestions are welcome. We’re here to grow and become HOTs.

One more thing, there’s no absolute truth. There are different perspectives we should carefully consider in order to draw some conclusions. Hence, all opinions are accepted.

new8

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Being aware vs being able

The difference between ‘what’ and ‘how’ should not be new to language educators. Yet, from time to time it turns to be quite challenging to draw the line. So I’ve decided to explain it on my personal example.

Recently I’ve delivered some speeches in an academic context. Definitely, knowledge of the topic is not enough. One should be able to deliver the speech appropriately. On the first day, my awareness was raised concerning my, let’s put it mildly, drawback. Now the skill is to be acquired 🙂

Undeniably, we need knowledge, some concrete facts, in order to be able to do something. This knowledge is the basis that helps develop our skills. Yet, it’s not enough. Knowing and doing are totally different things. I do know how to deliver a speech, but how well am I able to do it? – this is the question.

Thus, our primary goal as language educators is to help our learners make the necessary connections that will enable them to produce behavior. We should enable our learners to use the language appropriately and effectively. That is what we should strive for.

Now, I’ll insert some visual aids to help prove my point. Compare the pictures from Day 1 and Day 2, and see the difference. A quick hint, it has nothing to do with the dress. 🙂

I do realize though that this skill is still to be improved.

 

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