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Learning from my students

Popularity 2Viewed 2472 times 2018-3-18 15:17 |Personal category:Hobbies|System category:Life| English, teaching

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I am an English teacher in a private middle school. During each semester I will give my students oppotunities to show their talents before class as part of warming up activities. This term we have daily speech five minutes before class. Students take turns to give their short speech on any topic they like. In the end, there is Q&A portion to make sure all the other students listen carefully and understand the speaker.

Today, it is Leah's turn. Actually, she is not a topic student and doesn't do a good job in her homework, dictation and academic performance. So I didn't expect too much from her.

Standing on the platform constrainedly, she told a fable of an old lady and a cat. A long time ago, an old lady lived with her cat alone in a house. The cat was very hardworking and caught mice for her. But day by day, the cat became old too. It can't catch mice for the old lady because it is not as fast and alert as before. One day, the old lady told the cat to leave her house and didn't come back any more. The cat felt sad and asked"Why do you abandon me? I once caught a lot of mice." The old lady replied"Now you can't catch even a little mouse, just go." The cat said nothing, it  turned away and left.

The story ended. Leah asked other students:"What do you think of this old lady?" Jack answered,"I think she is a bad and cruel woman because she throws the cat away when it is useless for her."Nick, a naughty boy, answered,"I think she is a good woman." I ignored him because I knew he always said opposite words deliberately. I wanted them to give a different answer, for example, she is not grateful and thankful. That is the first time I have heard this story, so I came to the conclusion instinctly. But Ariel's answer made me feel ashamed. I realized that maybe I only saw the phenomenon or appearance, but not the essence. I always try to train them to think critically, but this time, I failed to think so myself. This is what she said,"Miss Zhong, I think it depends. What if the old lady was very poor and had no food any more. Maybe she wanted her cat to find a richer owner and lived a better life. In this case, she is a good and kind woman." "Emm,critical thinking, good, and it makes sense. Thank you, Ariel!"

Next, Leah asked her second question,"How do you define the word old?" Menson put up his hand and said,"I think old means useless, because most old people lose the ability to do something just like the cat." Obviously, Jeff disagreed and can't wait to express his opinion. "Some people are old, but they have a young heart; some people are young, but they have an old heart. We talk about old and young separately."" Although old in years, some people are young in spirits. So you mean we should take both physical and mental aspects into consideration when we talk about youth, right?" I concluded.

The speech should have finished here. To my surprise, Leah asked another question which seemed to have nothing to do with the topic. Now I guess maybe she was enlightened by what I said just now. She asked other students,"How you define death?" Several students thought of Sima Qian, a great historian in Han dynasty. He onced wrote in his letter,"Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Taishan or lighter than a feather." Several thought of a Mexico film Coco. "According to Mexican culture, human have three lives, when their body, soul and memories from people who are alive are all gone, a man is really dead." I was so glad to teach those lovely and clever students.

Thank you, Leah, you have given us a meaningful speech. And thank you, boys and girls, you have reminded me of critical thinking. I understood the popular saying that what you read and what you experienced in life will definately become part of you in the future.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report Swifty55 2018-3-19 09:28
You are doing good with your students I think.Way to go.

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  • Acupuncture and my grandpa 2018-4-8 19:49

    Your grandpa is a very special person. You are lucky to have his wisdom to learn from. Enjoyed your story. Thanks

  • Learning from my students 2018-3-19 09:28

    You are doing good with your students I think.Way to go.

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