What if …

IMG_20160216_183613I understand that there are situations in life which seem to have no solution. The only thing one can do is leave. Forever. You’ve been here, you’ve done your job, you’ve left a footprint and now it’s time to go – even if the place you’re headed to is not necessarily a better one. Yes, you might well be leaving a relatively good place just because you fail to appreciate it or because you simply have no choice.

I’m the one watching those who are about to leave. And I ask myself if I did my best to encourage them to stay; I want to know if there was a little something I could do to prevent them from leaving. I believe I did try but was it enough?

But …. is it even wise to try to hold people when they want to go? Isn’t it wiser to let them go without questioning their motives? Leaving might be hard for them so why make it ever harder?

The trouble is that if I had convinced them to stay, I would be patted on the shoulder now and I would get a few imaginary bonus points, even if I had skillfully manipulated somebody into doing something they would regret for the rest of their life. I bet it wouldn’t be easy to bear such a burden.

And finally, how can I possibly dare to make somebody stay if I don’t know whether it’s good for them to do so? I can obviously tell them a million times that the current place is a the best one, but is it really? How do I know? What if my motives are purely selfish – what if I just want to get those bonus points and a few pats on the shoulder. What if my motivation is to be the greatest homeroom teacher whose students will not opt for a different school when the time comes.

For god’s sake! It’s their lives and their future, not mine.





A snippet from a teenage classroom

IMG_20160219_181625I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently had the privilege to write my first post for the iTDi blog. The topic was Teaching Teens and it was a fantastic experience. I’d like to add that two more bloggers – Marc Jones and Pravita Indriati – took up the challenge and wrote wonderful posts on the topic, so don’t forget to check them out.

Anyway, it’s Monday afternoon and I’m home, thinking about my classes. I’m feeling pretty excited today. It may be because it’s the full moon and I’m very sensitive to the phases of the lunar cycle. Or maybe it’s just because I had another wonderful day at school, having fun with my teen classes.

And I can’t help sharing a tiny snippet from such a class. The situation I’m going to describe clearly demonstrates how tricky it is to teach teenagers – not just because of them (their ever-changing mood or their alleged self-centredness), but because of what I do and how I react. I’ve simply put my foot in it…..

Context 1: Class of 19-year-old senior students. Topic: Films and actors

Me: What do you think is the most suitable type of movie for a date?

Girl: Something serious – with a nice twist. At least, the couple then has something to talk about.

Boy: Well, the plot is not really important because the girl is definitely not going to pay attention to the ending of the film.

Class: Laughter.

Me (smiling, pretending to be surprised): Really? I’d definitely like to see the ending of the film.

Boy: Well, if YOU and I went to the cinema together, Mrs. Teacher, I promise you WOULD be able pay attention to the ending of the movie.

Class: Laughter.

Me (smiling but pretending to be seriously offended). Oh, now I can’t help feeling offended!

Boy (apologetically): Oh, no! Teacher, I didn’t mean ……

Class: Haha, it’s too late to apologize!

The lesson finishes.

After the lesson, the boy comes to me and apologizes again (note: everybody is still in the classroom, curious to see what happens). Making sure that everybody can hear me, I wind up the conversation saying, jokingly, that I know what he meant: I, the teacher, am so intellectually mature that I would definitely want to pay attention to the ending of the movie and he would respect it. 😉 The boy nods in agreement, apparently relieved.

The conversation may have appeared flippant at first sight, but I know it wasn’t. It was one of those memorable moments you will want to share with your colleagues because, apart from teaching, you had fun with a group of intelligent teens.

There is a moral, though: pay attention to every word you say and remember that language, as well as gestures, can be dangerously ambiguous.