Parables from the Land of the Scorpion.

9th November 2022

The All-Knowing Parent

The House of Gesundheit opened its doors. Before long, a parent charged in, dragging a sickly child. The Doctor of Gesundheit examined the child, increasingly concerned with the findings.

“I must conduct further tests,” the professional explained.

“Ah, no problem, my child always passes tests,” the self-assured reply, with a pat on the money bag.

As the doctor suspected, the poor child had cancer, but it was at an early stage. Help was available, a full recovery was expected.

“Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no,” the parent countered, “the hair will fall out, children at school will laugh. I will not have my child laughed at, I will not have my child looking like an egg ! No, no, no, just give the child some pills, some medicine and all will be well. I know my child. I know my child much better than you do.”

The Doctor of Gesundheit protested, remonstrated, pleaded. The words fell on stony ground. So many pearls, such a large swine.

Eventually the doctor had to acquiesce. Parent and child walked away, victoriously.

Some months later the parent returned, bursting into the House of Gesundheit, screaming, ranting, pointing an accusing, accursing finger at the doctor.

“You killed my child. I brought my child to you for help. Instead … I bury my child. You killed my child. You are a terrible doctor, you are a murderer !”

The other patients heard this and got angry, they sided with the grieved parent and shouted abuse at the disgraced doctor.

The House of Gesundheit closed down.

The doctor abandoned medicine and looked for work from village to village.

In a small grave in a small graveyard lies a small child. Over the coming years, the graveyard grew bigger and bigger.

‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by Lennon & McCartney. August 1966

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Thank you my little princesses

30th July 2022

We just finished an extra, four-week summer school, which meant working from 8.30 – 10.30, then coming back for two evening classes, 17.10 – 21.00. This schedule, for all of us, was exhausting.

However on my last day, three girls gave me some presents: two notebooks and some chewy sweets. The sweets soon went the way of all flesh, but I will use the notebooks for ideas, songs and lyrics.

Thank you so much. A teacher NEVER forgets any gift from a student.

“Because it’s my nature.”

2nd June 2022

The fable of the frog and the scorpion

One day a scorpion was out walking when it came to a river. The scorpion, who couldn’t swim, wanted to cross the river, and saw a frog resting on a stone.

“Hello, frog, can you carry me to the other side ? I can ride on your back.”

The frog refused.

“You are a scorpion. You will sting me.”

“Why would I do that ? We would both die,” asked the scorpion.

The frog thought, then agreed. The scorpion climbed onto the frog’s back.

However, half way across the river, the scorpion stung the frog. The frog, in pain, asked the scorpion,

“Why did you do that ? Now we will both die.”

“I know,” replied the scorpion, “I couldn’t help it because it’s my nature.”

A modern day tale

Classes of students who are undisciplined, disrespectful and physically or verbally abusive.

The centre makes rules. The students start each lesson reciting them.

Rules such as not saying, “No,” to a teacher when asked to do something, not calling a teacher by a disrespectful name, no running, no eating in class.

Yet, forty minutes later, masks are off and half the class are eating, running in the halls, shouting. Students say, “No,” to polite requests, and call teachers disrespectful names.

They have been told if they break these new rules, they will be sent home, and if the offense is repeated, they will be expelled. Still they continue.

Why … because it’s in their nature.

Mr Orson Welles in ‘Mr Arkadin’ 1955

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Education is everything

23rd September 2021

Post image
The fictional Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe

Written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of ‘The West Wing’.

Teaching is exhausting; it requires Herculean feats of strength, mental and physical, and the compassion of the Buddha.

Teaching can be soul-destroying; it requires the wisdom of Solomon and the tolerance of Job.

Teachers can be disrespected, ignored and insulted.

Teacher reviews may be gauged on how popular they are, how many games they play, not on how much they teach or how many students actually pass.

But teachers can also change lives.

That is what makes it worthwhile.

We need to change more lives.

“We need gigantic monumental changes.”

Lockdown Lessons: A respectful reminder.

11th February 2021

Image result for online learning

Firstly, may I wish you all …

Image result for i/en|chuc mung nam moi 2021

Due to the return of COVID to Sai Gon, schools and language centres have been closed down, and online classes have restarted.

A big shout out to the staff at my centre. Instead of taking things easy in the build up to Tet, and enjoying time with their family, they had to work all hours to prepare for the change to distance learning.

To make these lessons work, we need students, and their parents, to follow these simple rules:

Respect your teacher and your teacher will respect you

tôn trọng giáo viên của bạn

You HAVE TO turn on your camera. If your camera is not working, you HAVE TO inform the centre.

Answer your teacher when you are asked a question.

Please control your background noise. No music, computer games or talking. Try to find somewhere quiet for the class.

Let’s work together and make the best of this situation and hopefully, we can all meet at the school in the near future.

Stay safe, stay well

To my IELTS students: An open blog.

14th January 2021

International Students Should Switch Off Phone During Classroom -  FreeEducator.com

I met an old class on Tuesday for a speaking test, and one of the students asked me why I stopped taking that class. I thought the reasons were pretty obvious, however if you really need me to explain, how about these:

I was absolutely sick of one of the students sitting directly in front of me, ignoring everything I said because she (yes, you all know who she is) was too busy on her phone, even bringing in a power-bank to make sure she had enough battery for three hours.

‘Student’ Care have mentioned this to her, and once even sent a representative to the class to tell her to stop. It had NO EFFECT; she continued using the phone each and every lesson.

I stopped calling on her to answer in class, as I only ever saw the top of her head. No doubt someone had posted a picture of a coffee or a cat to which she absolutely had to react, immediately, or risk losing a ‘friend’ that she probably hasn’t even met.

During the test I asked her to explain the centre rules, which she totally agreed with … in theory. I followed this with asking why she broke the rules. She replied that she, “Was bored.” She claimed that she was unaware that such behaviour was disrespectful.

Furthermore, I realised that with one exception, nobody was learning anything more; the class seemed happy at their level, and were not making any effort to expand their knowledge. Every lesson I stressed the importance of pronunciation features. I didn’t detect even 1% improvement, nor even the desire to improve.

Well, how did that work out for you in the speaking test ? Not so great, hey ?

Finally, I set a ‘test’ in my last two classes with you. Remember ? I gave you speaking practice then, instead of walking up and down monitoring your activity, I treated you like responsible adults. Instead of working, out came the mobile phones and English was replaced by the less than euphonic sound of the Vietnamese language.

Previously, I had given students one-to-one help. Instead of being thanked for this individual guidance, I was greeted with, “Me, again ? I spoke to you last week.”

I hope that answers your question.

Moving onwards or downwards, my Wednesday class. Talk about laid-back, I need to check if they still have a pulse.

Bored Of Education: Students' Feelings Towards High School Mostly Negative,  Study Finds

I’ve dispensed with social pleasantries such as, “How are you ?” as I was receiving answers such as, “I’m tired,” or “I’m exhausted.” Just what a teacher wants to hear before a three-hour class.

DRINK SOME GODDAMN COFFEE

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I made it perfectly clear, in the first lesson, that I am NOT here to entertain you. YOU are here to pass IELTS, which is a hard subject and requires active participation on your part. This means SPEAKING.

If your teacher asks you a question, damn well answer

Answer loudly and clearly, not just mumble begrudgingly. I told you last night, I am here to help you, I am not the enemy. If you refuse to speak or practice you are only hurting your own prospects.

At least last night, one of the ‘students’ admitted that she lacked energy or enthusiasm but, the punchline … she wants to be an English teacher.

65+ Are You Serious Memes That You Can Relate To - GEEKS ON COFFEE

Now we come to tonight’s class, which contains three young men.

Your behaviour over the last weeks has been unacceptable. This is a Cambridge IELTS class, not a Beer Club, certainly not a Kid’s class.

So, here are the rules:

NO SHOUTING IN THE CLASSROOM

SPEAK ENGLISH

NO CALLING OUT STUPID ANSWERS

LEARN THE NEW VOCABULARY – YOU WILL NEED IT TO PASS

NO FIGHTING IN THE CLASS – YES, I ACTUALLY HAVE TO WRITE THIS

Not too much to ask or to expect.

If you do not comply, I will stop the lesson and refuse to teach your sorry asses

I will not let you schmucks ruin an otherwise lovely class

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“My way or the highway.”

A Tale of Two Classes

11th December 2020

Compare these two photos; which class do you think was more dynamic ?

Photo 1
Photo 2

The basic lesson was the same: what are you doing now, add a connector (or discourse marker) and say what you want in the future.

Students are taught how to use vernacular language, practise changes in intonation and alterations in stress, as well as chunking (natural linking together of words).

The photos, as the saying goes, tell their own story.

Photo 1 is from a high-level IELTS class where I wanted to increase vocabulary, and encourage the students to use more intonation … or basically ANY intonation in their voice.

The topic went down like the proverbial Led Zeppelin (and I wasn’t feelin’ a Whole Lotta Love for the class). I managed to elicit some half-arsed replies before they returned to their mobiles (or cell phones if you’re in the USA) or their natural comatosed state.

The Big Short GIFs | Tenor

On the other hand, take a gander (have a look) at the second photo; same basic lesson target, but my goodness, what a difference, and this from an intermediate class.

Both classes were small in size (about six students) and predominantly teenagers, so how do we account for the chasm between them ?

To use academic language (for one of my new IELTS students):

This would seem to suggest that it was the students, as opposed to the lesson, that was the issue.

Academia GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Words such as ‘inspire’ or ‘motivate’ are synonymous with teaching. However, as someone who attempts to teach, I must add that a successful lesson relies on synergy; one cannot motivate those who actively resist being motivated.

Teachers only have so much energy, and they can’t afford to waste it on customers who shuffle into class, scowling, ignoring the teacher, sitting at the back clutching their bag, defensively, in front of them before becoming engrossed in their phones and ignoring any questions put to them. I’m not talking about children here, but young adults or adults, on a course that they chose, and need for their future.

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I wish I were.

So, to my great students, who come to class willing to learn, to be active, to practice and are polite and respectful:

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