Those are unusual places your mind can take you to when you unplug it from conventions and rules. Those are unforgettable moments you can experience when meeting people who tell you those places do exist. Those moments can even change your ways! Once setting off on such journey, once your curiosity prevails, once you let go, miracles can happen.
Bring an autumn leaf to your class, bring one for every single student, and give it as a flower, as a special gift and they will approach it in that way. That’s what Mark Andrews showed us today during his workshop in Kosice while unplugging Slovakia one city at a time. He took us some places, let our minds wander and made the familiar unexpected and strange. I confess my mind is still somewhere else and not very willing to come back and do the writing but I know it is either now or never that I can share my day with others (I ask for forgiveness for the moments when I may be dragging it from somewhere else again).
There was a lot of talking, thinking and discussing today but one thing for all is taking me back to my plans for shopping next week. Actually, not really shopping but rather leafing through the catalogues and shop displays for the language and stories there.
What about giving students a project like that? Isn’t that the place they really enjoy going anyway, with or without homework? Surely they know a lot more about shops and brands than we do sometimes. What if we took it a bit further and asked them to do a little research on the story behind the brand name and image? Mark did that with H&M and I am convinced there was not a single person in the room today who wouldn’t “wow” at some point. Not exactly because of the language we learned (or could learn as learners) but because it was something real, authentic and we all thought familiar to us. I got that moment during watching a TV commercial for H&M – I will not reveal everything but I can give you a hint – a haiku to connect the dots
Blue velvet and pink
Don’t make that little man glad
Would they, was it Lynch?
Well done, what an idea for a mere commercial to put all those Lynch movies ideas in one commercial and I still wonder why! Curiosity does open up that door. The door we, teachers, show our students. In case of good teacher training, we can be taken to such doors as well.
To sum it up for this post (though I and Mark are about to do more on H&M stuff soon!), maybe tomorrow as you walk to your school, keep your eyes open and sometimes choose just random objects of interest and bring them with you to your class. See what your students can do with that, scaffold their discoveries at the beginning and ask them to bring stuff they know about or simply come across and find interesting. Create that safe environment where all ideas, opinions and every effort is appreciated and can lead to amazing and big things. I didn’t have anything with me today before I went teaching my afternoon class. I had one idea, risky and I wasn’t really sure where it could lead. I took my elementary+ students to join Mark’s afternoon workshop for teachers. I had doubts “Will they manage to concentrate for 90 minutes?” Will they find it interesting at all” “Will they learn anything?” With a little task and a space I and Mark gave them, they did! We all did!
‘And can I keep that leaf?’ She asked leaving the room.
‘Of course you can!’ I replied, smiling and looking at her putting it gently between the pages of her notebook; a girl who didn’t raise her hand when we were voting whether to join Mark’s session or not.
ps. I left a workshop with an ear worm and found myself dancing to a newly discovered Lana Del Rey’s song Summertime Sadness later tonight. You can never tell where curiosity and the door someone opened for you can take you.