It was always important for me that my lessons had a shape, by which I mean a beginning, a middle and an end. I think I was very influenced in this by all the sermons I listened to as a child, remembering the collective sigh which went round the congregation when a visiting minister, after speaking for twenty minutes, said “And now I come to my second point…”
Many years later I bumped into Rev. Adams, a former Minister of the church we attended, and I told him about how his sermons – which were always well structured – had influenced my lessons. He told me he thought a sermon should be like a circle, and that at the end you find yourself back where you started – but futher along the line. Yes! that’s exactly it. So I planned my lessons to be full of individual blocks of learning – speaking, games, partner-work, quizzes, reading, listening, watching clips – which all at the end added up to how I thought a good lesson should be.
Anyway, for years my lessons have started with a short presentation about something. It started with ‘King of the Week’ (British monarchs of course)
then we went through the Queens of the week, then the princes and princesses, then English counties and then famous German scientists and then famous scientists of the world and so on and so on, feels like forever – until last term, when we were so abruptly stopped in the middle of the series ‘Beatles Song of the Week’.
I learned so much and so often one thing led to another. Famous scientist one week was Otto von Guericke, which meant a trip to Magdeburg to visit the museum there
– which led to a visit to the Cathedral,
Which led to a visit to the Ottonium (Click here):
where we found Emperor Otto’s wife, Editha, had been English,
and with her in her tomb were the insects who had died with her… and those who had popped into her sarcophagus when it was opened (and closed again) hundreds of years later and that led to Insect of the Week, which led to Horst building our Insect Hotel (see the header, it is crammed full of insects this summer) and me and my students sponsoring bee-friendly meadows in our municipality.
That was how it was, how it used to be, a helter-skelter of finding things out, and how it isn’t any more.
I can’t describe how much I miss the serendipity of learning odd things, where one interesting discovery leads to the next. I miss the dozens of times every week I – and my students – say ‘How interesting!’ because we have learned something new. That learning, and passing on what I had just found out was such fun.
It’s not all gloom and doom though. Some companies want to start lessons again using Microsoft Teams, long-distance learning, and now I have established how all that works (technically), and actually had a great video conversation with wonderful student H., I have to think how I can reach through the Internet to touch my students, to catch them and carry them along on my enthusiasms so that we all leave the lesson feeling better than we did before.
That’s all that counts really, in these times of Corona.
So, Here Comes the Sun:
The Cabin Fever Part