Friday, 7 December 2012

Finding "The Element"

Recently, I have been looking into ways of incorporating personal development into my lessons. Personal development refers to the task of improving your attitude towards learning or working by diversifying your skill set or gaining a new perspective on life as a whole. It may involve reflecting on your past experiences, answering questions that you have of yourself, examining your life's path or seeking the advice of others to put you back on the path to enlightenment. Famous personal development authors could include Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins, or Sir Ken Robinson. What does this have to do with FSL or learning a subsequent language? Well, learning a new language involves learning about or experiencing a new culture. This can be an overwhelming experience for young learners as they are forced to think outside their schemas and incorporate new ways of thinking into their lives in order to truly be in the most ideal frame of mind for language learning, which is the immersion experience. This may cause students to start to examine their own culture and heritage with a more critical eye, especially if they encounter challenges in their learning. Personal development will help students to get over some roadblocks to learning so that learning a new language involves less culture shock and more enjoyment and cultural exploration. Examining ones own cultural bias will aid in the process of interacting with a new culture in a way in which you can learn from it and learn to enjoy it. Of particular interest to educators and parents alike is the book "The Element" by Sir Ken Robinson. It is all about discovering your passions and talents in life and working towards getting into a mindset where your talents are used to their full potential to achieve great works. These great works might be a brilliant math formula, a science experiment that leads to a discovery, a beautifully choreographed artistic dance, a musical score, winning a game of basketball or designing a thrilling new video game, just to name a few examples. When students find their element, they are also finding out the way they learn best. To sum it up, when students find the way in which they can produce great works and live up to their fullest potential, the sky is the limit as to what they can achieve. Allowing students the time and energy to go through the process of finding their element and learning to work within its perameters is what education should be all about. The following is a link to a discussion Sir Ken Robinson had at Penn State University. He is world renowned for his thoughts on creativity in education, and his book "The Element" can help you get to the place in your life where you can truly be great. Don't be afraid to take risks in your language learning and teaching, and take that first step in the process of finding your element today (if you haven't already)!

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