Friday, March 10, 2006

This is when I dig my job the most

In order to fire up conversation in the ESL (English as a second language) classes I give, I introduce questions that are likely to inspire a variety of opinions. Yesterday we were discussing the following statement:

No one chooses their country of birth, so it is foolish to be proud of it. Agree or disagree.

One student pointed out that it was right to be proud because in that way, we honor our ancestors who came before us.

Another student agreed in principal but since the world is divided into countries, why not be proud of "yours".

I stated my opinion that if we are proud of our country, we are really stating that our country or "we" are superior to others.

And then one of the quieter students spoke up. I disagree, she said, because I believe that I did choose this life.

I thought "Ooooh, now we can delve into some deeper philosophical stuff." At the same time, the other students were exchanging "she's crazy" glances at each other.

A cursory discussion ensued touching on Buddhism, and tales seen on "mystery files" about past lives.

With class time waning, I seized the moment and asked the class to do a small writing assignment for homework:

Regardless of what you think about reincarnation, I want you to ASSUME that you did indeed choose this life.

Now write down why you chose this particular life. Minimum 200 words.

I'm interested to hear their thoughts because I hope that it becomes a lesson in gratitude.

After all, if we experience bad situations, but we "know" that we chose this life, the bad situations become less about "why me?" and more about, "what am I supposed to be learning from it."

And that my friends, is a better perspective, regardless of the "truth".

16 comments:

Snooze said...

Can I pretend that I don't speak English just so that I can be in your class? You sound like an amazing teacher.

nongirlfriend said...

Wow, an amazing concept. Yes, regardless of the truth.

I still have your "what helps me get through the day" post saved so I can look at it when I need to. Thankfully, I don't need help getting through the day that often but your words are good to remember.

Lucky you to get to read what they write!

CoffeeDog said...

We might not choose the life, the things that happen to us, but we can choose how we react to things. Thinking is the first step to being.

Dantallion said...

Very cool road to take them down. I agree with Snooze - excellent teacher.

The Wisdom of Wislon said...

I think I went off into my own world for a secnd there reading your post, I take it you mean you chose this life your leading? I was started to think about birth, genetics and the big bang...!

Oh my,you look like you can move some load working out!!!! ;-)

I'm able to lift up my partner, i'm quite a strong girlie you see, not sure if he really appreciates the fact I can lift him up though.

What do you reckon?

Useful if I need to place him somewhere I suppose ;-) hee hee hee

have agood weekend

PS: i'm coming to the end of my teaching course, enjoyed my lessons but it's been tough going with work.

Chunks said...

That's a great assignment! I think I chose this life to learn be a better parent to the children who would later choose me.

That's pretty deep stuff considering I've only had three sips of coffee yet this morning.

Happy Friday!

epicurist said...

Kudos. I agree with the lot. What a cool path to take in teaching. :)

Jericho said...

Your students are fortunate to have you, your reativity ~ nice assignment, too - one I may use, so thanks :)

Kevin said...

Wow. Deep. I wish some of MY classes had been that thought-provoking.

Lee said...

I'm in agreement with the Bhuddist kid. Even about liking alice bands.

Patricia said...

i can't begin to tell you how much i love this train of thought. 'cause if i begin, i'll never stop.

way cool, in a way that gives me goosebumps.

Sister Staceypatrick said...

Wow! That's pretty heavy and deep, but what an interesting assignment! Really brings a new perspective into things!

St. Dickeybird said...

Great idea!
I may try that one myself.

Em said...

So when we are grateful for the suffering we are more deeply aligned with our original intent? (In your scenario I mean.)

George Larson said...

I think some poor schmuck in your class is gonna muddle through the 200 words but the question will be forever burned in his brain.

Two years from now his it will have whittled his self-worth to nearly nothing.

Inside of five years, your evil assignment will have degraded him to the point that he has commited suicide or become a crack-head.

Way to go, teach.

Em said...

wow. That sounds like the self pitying bottle speaking. Always good to spread the self loathing to complete strangers.

On a less sarcastic note George, I really hope you get some help with that.