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Thought From The Corner

June 27, 2012

"thought from the corner"

There are times when giving private tutoring I need to change tack and approach my private English tuition from another direction.

Generally speaking one to one lessons go like a dream and the students’ march on to examination success. There are occasions, however, when the student just doesn’t ‘get it’. Of course, it is possible to be of the opinion that, that’s his/her problem. I have explained it as I always do and the learner should do more to understand. On the other hand, maybe it is me that needs to do a bit of ‘re-understanding’.

One such occasion happened in a lesson recently and I went home feeling rather ‘down in the tooth’. Could it be that I am ‘losing it’? As always in situations like  this, I turn to literature for inspiration. Books such as Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s ‘The Little Prince’ , Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’ or Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ always seem to supply me with  answers. This time I chose to dip into my book of Chinese proverbs. It didn’t take me long to find the following:

                  One night I was a butterfly, fluttering happily around.

                  Then I awoke, and found that I was a man.

                  But what am I in truth?

            A man who dreams he is a butterfly, or a butterfly who dreams he is a man?

                  Zhuang Zi  

On an initial reading it is possible that the metamorphosis will be taken literally. That would be a pity because wrapped up in those beautiful lines is, to me, a universal truth – or perhaps even several truths.

In life, we ourselves undergo many changes. There are the obvious physical ones as we progress from childhood to our teens and then onto adulthood. There are also the changes in our family structure as elder members pass away and younger ones are introduced into the world.

More subtly, though, are those changes within us that make us into the individual we turn out to be. It can be something as simple as coming across Zhuang Zi’s words of wisdom (above) that make us re-assess and ultimately help us to reach a deeper understanding of who we are and our relationship to others.

I returned to the learner to give my next private tutoring lesson with my notes re-written. ‘ That was a great English lesson ‘ he said beaming, going on to produce a lovely GCSE English essay entitled: ‘The Man Who Dreamt He Was A Butterfly’.

"private tutoring"

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