Category: Metaphors

Shaving and Innovation in Education


Note to the reader: this post originally appeared on the IATEFL Teacher Development SIG website. As a year has gone by and I like having stuff in one place, I’m republishing it here.

I recently started shaving with a straight razor.  No, this isn’t going to be a post about how manly I am.

It’s going to be about how I decided to make this change, and what this has to do with my becoming increasingly mistrustful of innovation as a force for positive educational change.

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balance isn’t everything

Movement is the destruction of balance.

I don’t know who I originally heard this from, but it was in the context of running theory.

The idea is that in order for a physical body to move in any direction, it cannot be in a position of balance. That is to say, it cannot be maintaining a given position against the pressure of gravity.

For movement to occur, this balance needs to be destroyed, if only momentarily and if only slightly.  In order to run, all we need is a very slight forward lean from the ankles, and gravity takes care of the rest.  We realign ourselves with gravity by bringing our feet up fast enough to catch ourselves from toppling, and repeat the process.

This got me thinking about learning.  It made me realise the following: learning is the destruction of knowing. Continue reading

Sneak preview – seconds away…

I am lucky enough to be one of those invited to speak at the upcoming IH Barcelona ELT Conference, 8-9 February 2013.  The event has already sold out, but if you are going to be there and have no other plans between 12:45 – 1:45pm on Saturday 9 February, then come along to room B at the venue, where I’ll be talking a good fight about how to knock seven bells out of your lessons in future!

the classroom as crucible

Crucibles – image taken from http:// by Mauro Cateb, used under a CC Attribution Commercial licence,”

Some months ago, I had sad occasion to write a eulogy of sorts to the best teacher I ever had – Chris Foley.

In it, I wrote how he tempered me to take the edge of thoughtful enquiry (which probably sounds incredibly pompous and conceited, but if I have any intellectual sharpness, I have him to thank for it.)

The image was of the furnace, the blacksmith, the forge – and, at the forge’s heart, in the pit of the furnace, sits the crucible.

Most of us will never see a crucible of this kind in action, but I would like to suggest that we have all spent many years of our lives within a crucible of a very different kind.

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