Sunday, February 28, 2010

I’m a “Learning Facilitator” Dangit!

No promises - but ill try to keep this one short.

After (that) stormy declaration about my perspective on teaching, this may be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Midway through this week, I essentially had a shouting match with God. Politely of course, but just the same - there were things that needed to be said. I hopped on my bike and quickly made my way over to the park in the evening. I found a spot near a somewhat stale looking pond with reeds sticking out of it, and sat on a rather large rock, rather than one of the six available benches. What can I say - thats just my way.

Staring out at the pond and watching the fireworks (plus the nuclear fallout on the really large ones), I worked through my thoughts with God.

I ‘voiced’ my frustrations: asking and being asked questions along the way.

Come to think of it - this sounds an awful lot like a living psalm, but I don't need to get into that right now.

The scene around me really reflected my experience in a weird-kind of zen way:

-The long dark pool reflected the strict primary and secondary colours of Chinese advertisements, while reeds and refuse broke the surface of the not-so-deep.

-The park is a well, but eerily-lit oasis in the middle of the population dense city of Zhengzhou. (The light sources are roughly six-foot tall pylons that emit a sort of diffused fluorescent light)

My primary frustration has been that I have not felt like my teaching was really reflecting the creativity that I know I have. However, it is not a simple matter to just “add” creativity. Not only this, one cannot just add creativity at the cost of an effective lesson. Problem... I don’t even feel like my lessons are that effective!!

Frustrated with myself that I am having such a hard time doing my job well, angry that I still felt that these shoes were still mine to fill (sort of like a toddler trying to run in a fireman’s steel-toed boots), and not really knowing how to fix the problem - I waited on my rock for the answers I was looking for.

Answers came.

I remembered something I had said months ago when I was looking for ESL jobs. My worth as a ‘teacher’ is not as a teacher per se, but more as an excellent learner. Instead of trying to be a parent, it is better for me to be the older brother. It is better for me to help and enable, than to try and ‘give’ knowledge. yet one more exhausting paradigm - open doors, don't cart people through them.

The hardest part of climbing a wall is trying to find a foothold. That part would be true... except there is something that makes climbing a wall even more difficult - not being able to find the wall. That has been my problem. I know there is the problem, I just don't know where exactly it is.

Well, I found my wall. How do I get back to the place where I can “teach” by being a better learner. I know the ways to conduct my own language learning, so that would be the best place for me to start in teaching. If I know that I would not learn through my own lesson, then chances are - its a flop.

Then came the ideas, and the creativity. Not quite for the classes and levels that I am teaching, but at least they started to come.

Recognizing that the dam had been broken, I stepped down from my soapbox, retrieved my bike and returned home.

I had to wrestle myself into sleep that night because my mind could not stop moving. It was a little inconvenient, considering that I needed to teach the next day (so sleep was a precious commodity), but I also went to bed happy and content knowing that God was still walking me through the process of what needed to happen.

It is a much easier thing to climb a mountain with a sherpa than a blindfold - “ancient” proverb (all of 3 seconds old you know).

See look! I kept my word.

1 comment:

  1. Really great Peter. I can take advise from this. Thanks