Thomas Merton

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11 thoughts on “Thomas Merton”

  1. Perfect quote for us. Thanks Ben!
    And I appreciate your thoughts in response to my comments….I’m always angsting about my French classes. Funny thing is, I also teach 2 logic classes at my school. I just teach them and don’t worry about any of the stuff that drives me with the tprs french classes. Wonder why. Probably because I don’t take them personally. If the kids aren’t interested or eating out of my hand, I don’t worry!


  2. How true this is in education where we are asked to do so many things and be so many different types of people. And for what? We can’t be everything for everyone, but we must be there for our families. What has helped me to do this is to delegate as much as I can in order to free myself to be creative with my classes. Life is too short to let the violence continue in our lives. My son is 4 months old in a few days and it feels like he was just born. I want to enjoy it because I know that tomorrow he will be 8. Or at least that’s what they tell me…

  3. This week there seemed to be a shortage of subs at our school (I’m not sure why or what happened?). I was asked twice to give up my planning period and to sub for someone else during my only break in the day. I felt guilty but I said “Sorry, I can’t help.” both times. I feel like I am not being a good team player but I also feel like I have to protect myself and my own health and sanity first. I have been dealing with some health issues this year in the first few months of classes and they seem to be stress related. I actually need that time and use it for planning, grading, copying, prep for classes that will follow, and a little break from the energy we put out when managing a class of students. I feel a little less guilty after this discussion so thanks y’all!

  4. When I tell my kids about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, so that they can more easily grasp the somewhat obtuse grammatical terminology, I tell them to think that when the oxygen masks drop down, due to air pressure in an airplane, the first person they would help is themselves, the second the person next to them, and the third the person across the aisle. It helps them understand the terms. Applying that image to your comments, Ruth, I can’t help but believe that our administrators, whose job is to support us, would find it quite fitting and proper that we take care of ourselves first, so we can do our job of teaching properly. Today there was a faculty basketball game against the kids in our school during contract hours just after school. A janitor came by and said that he had seen almost none of the faculty down in the gym – we were all in our rooms. We all had too much to do. That’s the way it is. I do my job first and worry about anything else later. T’en fais pas.

  5. Wow, Ben. Thanks for the grammar analogy. That’s one of those that has made me feel as if I’m just beating my head on a wall when I try to explain it to 8th graders. (Last year they insisted there was NO 2nd person… strange… they were vehement…) I tried your analogy on an average student this morning, and it was completely obvious to him what the terms meant.

  6. I think about this quote often, and try to remind myself often that I should not fall into this trap. The world is just so damn interesting, so many things to involve oneself in!

    But sometimes this overreaching isn’t such a bad thing. Especially when we are learning. I don’t mean normal learning here, I mean the accelerated type of learning that one goes through in those “the truth shall set you free/ignorance was bliss” periods of one’s life, when we throw out most of the crap that was taught to us throughout our lives, and replace it with something more real. During that time, I think it is certainly positive to feel conflicted, and to BE conflicted, with many concerns.

    In the long run, yes, I think the frenzy is bad, and we are much less effective in making change if we spread ourselves too thin. When I think about where to start in the school, what needs to change first, what is most hurting the kids in our buildings, I am often at a loss though. I mean, we shouldn’t just coop ourselves in our language classroom and focus solely on that component of our workplace, should we?

    I’m curious to know what you all think is most hurting kids in our buildings (I can think of many things), or shall I say where we should focus in order to help nurture a capable generation of young adults into our society. The food? The grades? The compulsive nature of school? Class periods? Nature deficit? Chalk dust?

  7. Jim the hole in their hearts is what is hurting them most. The being ignored as people in favor of government/corporate run testing programs that measure gains about which they could personally not give a rat’s tutu.

    What is hurting them most is the absolute denial of who they are as human beings. They are stung daily by being made to feel stupid because they can’t conjugate a verb or keep up with a story. Stories and PQA are light years better than the old stuff, but can they reach the hearts of all the kids in the room? We know that they cannot. (We blame it on our own inexperience with CI, but is it that?)

    Comprehensible input in the form of stories and PQA can reach some of their hearts, but it is still a teacher centered thing, and god awful hard work. Why not explore comprehensible input in the form of music? Since music reaches their hearts – and our own – where nothing else does, why not aim our instruction at their hearts, not at their brains? Why not find a pedagogical interface between CI and music?

    Jim I hear in your question a desire to know why we who claim how wonderful stories and PQA are don’t reach more kids with them. I may be reading that into what you wrote above, and if so I apologize. But, to say it again – stories and PQA have shown that they can teach a ton of language but do they address the holes in kids’ hearts?

    The CI that we are delivering now is still a mental thing except for the laughter, and it doesn’t reach all the kids. Maybe we can reach more kids and do a better job with the CI if we create a way of delivering CI that addresses more emotions than just that of laughter. If Krashen is right, shouldn’t we be developing ways of delivering comprehensible input that reaches ALL human emotions? Is twenty years of experimentation with stories by the best teachers in the world long enough before we go looking for other ways of making Krashen’s ideas work, not by leaving stories and PQA behind, but by expanding the field, the possibilities of CI?

    Duke will be here in Denver in a week. I’m going to wring his brain out, and learn what he already knows and has been working on now for years – how lucky we all are – how to teach and reach the holes in their hearts with music, so that they pay attention for real, not because I tell them to sit up with squared shoulders and clear eyes and focus on the CI.

    Using technology to bring music to them that is fully comprehensible and, because it is music, begins to fill the holes in their hearts with the multifaceted emotions of life, the kind of life that happens in the world beyond school buildings – that is where my ship is going.

    9Again. No – technology is not bad. Yes, it is misused by teachers who don’t know how to use it in the service of the generation of meaningful and interesting comprehensible input.)

    Maybe I can just generate CI from the twexted songs – those four ass-kicking songs – I have just begun to use, and you also, Jim. And Andrea. Maybe I don’t need to do uniquely stories and PQA. Maybe I have songs.

  8. I’ve tried to go to the twext webpage but I can’t find it. Do you have a link?
    My 6th graders are phenomenal with songs. They’ve already learned 4 songs and love to practice them. I would love to use the twexting more though.
    Ben, I know that you’ve stopped doing CI with classes at times in the pastand switched to textbook because students are just being super resistant…Well, I got so fed up with my two 7th grade classes that I’ve decided to go worksheets and grammar for the next week. They can’t speak unless they raise their hand, can’t get up from their desks-I know I should be more strict from the start, but I just let them get away from me. So, I’m pounding them a bit with grammar (although they stick to their CI jobs-the “con” and “pero” people still make their noises.) But I actually think it’s helpful for them because for the past year I’ve only done stories and CI with them. Now that I’m giving them some grammar to explain it, I get some students saying, “OOOHhhhhhh, I get it.” Like now I’m giving them the rule that they acquired by CI, so we’re working backward in a sense (according to a more traditional model.) How much grammar and worksheet work is too much? I just can’t do PQA with this class right now. I have several students with behavioral issues and they disrupt so much of the CI.

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