I should have learned my lesson yesterday, but I didn't and here's another post that I'll probably regret putting up. Oh well, gotta be me.
While looking for information on early English education, a series of unfortunate links led me to the ELT News site and this article in their 'ELT Thinktank' section.
This is Chris Hunt: EFL kindergarten teacher extraordinaire in Japan. If you can look past the hat (I know, it isn't easy), you'll see that he is holding something that looks like some kind of wind instrument (be sure to click on the picture to make it even harder to see) Or maybe it's a 'love stick' he uses on his children and/or himself? I dare not speculate.
The point in this 'thinktank forum' is just to share a good idea you’ve had that other teachers might find useful. The other entries all seem more or less fine, but Chris, like his appearance, proves to be unique.
Either missing the
point entirely or just seeking desperately to be clever, this is part of his initial
response to the topic:
Somewhere in King Lear there’s a discussion about the worst. For better or for worse the argument
goes as follows so long as we can say this is the worst, then it is not the
worst. But how does the argument stand up the other way around? Let’s try it out. As long as we can say this is the best, it is not the
best! What is best can be bested. Something better this way bends. I guess
whether you find this a cause for celebration or a cause for concern depends
upon your point of view. Or perhaps it is both? Or perhaps it is neither?
Perhaps you can get to some sort of logical point?
Can you imagine having to sit in a meeting with this guy?
It’s late, you’ve got things to do and just want whatever is on the agenda to
be resolved and then this guy opens his mouth and starts babbling out this kind
of nonsense ad nauseum. Knuckles whiten as you clutch your Parker pen tightly
and stare down at your daily planner. Maybe if everyone avoids eye contact he’ll
eventually get the hint and stop? You begin to doodle cartoons of a little stick
figure with a big hat dying in various, gruesome ways. The babbling continues…
Why is it that human beings get so wrapped up in what is
best? Is it a facet of what has been termed the ‘human condition’ or just a
function of social conditioning? Is it the pursuit of excellence or merely the
expression of ego? Is the source a love of life or a fear of it? Does it spring
from an abundance of self esteem or from a lack of it? Don’t expect much of an
answer from me at the moment I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Perhaps I
need a drink; but first an aside.
I'm sorry, an 'aside'? You mean you are going to go even further away from the topic than you already have been for several paragraphs? You look around the meeting room desperately at the other teachers forced to endure this bullshit. Your heart sinks as you see nothing but helpless despair in all of their eyes. And Chris mercilessly rambles on...
Where do ideas come from? When I sat down to write this
piece I began with just one idea in mind, a feeble joke. It went like this. Ah
yes, my best idea of the year I’m still waiting for it. But now thoughts are
swirling around me and through me like so many phantoms. Which ones can I give
shape and substance to? Which ones will allow me to?
Yeah, at this point, sitting in our hypothetical meeting with Chris babbling away, you’ve got your own phantom-like
thoughts swirling around your head. Which to give shape and substance to? The
ones impelling you to try to knock off that ridiculous hat by angrily hurling your
daily planner across the room? Or the ones compelling you to scream and hurl
yourself out the window and fall to your death?
I don’t mean this as a blanket condemnation of everyone in education, but
I just have a hard time thinking of where else this guy would be able to hold a
job, let alone be allowed to speak in a public forum. Nothing comes to mind, but an IMAO “In my world” type scenario just popped
into my head with our beloved Chris as a member of the Bush cabinet.
Bush: So people, what’s the best way to get out of this Iraq quicksand…mirey thing?
Chris: Well, I don’t really like to think about things in terms of ‘best’. I mean, what exactly does ‘best’ mean? And when we agree to
label something ‘best’, are we really saying it could not bested? What if something better this way bends…ACK!..AARRGH, GASP!
Bush: Cheney, stop enstrangling the guy. I
like when he talks. Gives me a chance to look out the window and clear my head,
think about ranch stuff I’d like to do come this month’s 2-week vacation.
Cheney: Sorry, Mr President. I was just
going to straighten out his tie and I tripped. Let me make it up to you Chris
by taking you out on a hunting trip.
Chris: Can I wear my hat? It makes me look
Cheney: [flashing that classic
heart-warming Cheney smile] Oh yes. Please do wear the hat. Yes...
Ok, back to Hunt’s deep dish of philsophical goodness.
Suddenly I’m reminded of an old Monty Python skit where
John Cleese (I think) dressed as a middle aged woman recites his theory about
dinosaurs, “Dinosaurs are thin at one end, fat in the middle and thin at the
other. This is my theory and mine alone.” Yet how many of us have had an idea
that we can honestly lay claim to alone? Can ideas really be born in isolation?
And if this is not the case, what price copyright?
Back to my drink. Okay, who’s been drinking from my glass?
Just look at it! I could say that it is half empty. I could say that it is half
full. I could say it’s just a glass. After all, it’s just imagination.
For some reason, this picture (swiped from the Big Ho's gallery) comes to mind after reading the above.
Seriously, does he even remember the original question at this
point? And I am the only person masochistic enough to continue reading?
Well, apparently Chris does look back to
the original question and finally gets around to answering. It’s some reward system he worked out to get his kindergarten kids to
speak in English. If for whatever reason you kind of feel down on your life, I
encourage you to read this. Might make your life seem a whole lot better in comparison.
And I think Chris himself starts to reflect a little too much on the meaning (or lack thereof) of his life. After talking about his classroom for a few paragraphs, this is what he
Lately I haven’t been sleeping so well. I’m
wondering about whether to renew my contract.
Then he goes right back into discussing his
kindergarten class without missing a beat. A beautiful little glimpse into a
troubled mind. I can’t help but start to pity him
at this point. He begins to criticize his ideas and I seriously wonder if he is
about to completly lose it. I’m not up on my psychology,
but I think that the day he decided to start wearing that hat was one of the
first warning signs that he needs help. Is it too late for Chris?
described my best idea of the year as garbage. It is working well as a control
system but is undemocratic. Yet it offers a reference point for me to move away
from. Something is not always better than nothing, but then nothing comes of
nothing so create again.
Yes, I…uh, what?
A reference point to move away from. I do
like that quote. English teachers everywhere in Asia, here is a reference point
that I hope you all can move away from.
A little quality control could do wonders for the reputation of the English teaching industry in Asia.
Comments from original post
That dude's la-la musings remind me of the classic creation hymn found in the Rig Veda (10.129):
There were begetters, there were mighty forces,
free action here and energy up yonder
Who verily knows and who can here declare it,
whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
The Gods are later
than this world's production.
Who knows then whence
it first came into being?
He, the first origin of this creation,
whether he formed it all
or did not form it,
Whose eye controls this world
in highest heaven,
he verily knows it
...or perhaps he knows not.
Posted by: Kevin Kim | July 01, 2006 at 06:11 AM
I've been feeling a bit down of late but that - what can I say? Funny as fuck...ha ha. Thanks - x
Posted by: Leone | July 01, 2006 at 06:57 AM
How much do you want to bet he speaks like that to his kindergarten students too? Some of these dudes get off on talking over people's heads.
And on an aside what exactly is "getting off?" Is it merely an abstract concept that we have created to define a chemical reaction occurring in the medial forebrain bundles? Or is there an actual "getting off process" that can be quantitatively measured? And how do such measurements relate to erections? What is an erection and why did we start calling it a boner? And how come there is a word for boner backwards, renob, but not for erection? Wouldn't a word like noitcere be more conducive to experiencing this getting off?
Posted by: Joel | July 02, 2006 at 06:13 PM
Very deep Joel. And would said boner be best described as half-erect? Or half-limp?
And by the way Pooper, what's with your unnecessary slanderations of the President? Why do you hate America so much?
Posted by: captainhowdy | July 02, 2006 at 10:49 PM
I have always enjoyed the term "semi-flacid," but maybe that's just me.
Posted by: Joel | July 03, 2006 at 06:59 AM
Where do ideas come from? Do they fall from the sky? Are they innate in the mind? No, they come from practice and reflection on this practice.
Posted by: Tony | July 04, 2006 at 01:21 AM
Is he wearing a pink bunny suit?
Posted by: Hugh | July 10, 2006 at 04:59 PM