"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NZATE CONFERENCE 2014: Keynote #1 Joe Bennett

Well, here I am again at conference. Sometimes I think this is weird way to spend my holiday, and it is also my birthday today...

The powhiri is over and we were given a warm welcome by a group of students here at John Paul College in Rotorua.

Joe Bennett

You might be surprised to know that he was a teacher once upon a time. At one stage he taught in Canada for three years. During this time an inspector asked to see the planning of a colleague, Bren. He said no. After he had said no three times the inspector was unhappy, so he offered to show him where he did his planning. Bren walked the inspector across the whole school and into the English Department, along the corridor and stopped about a meters from his classroom door. He said, "About here, usually."  Joe said that he was with Bren, and that he had stopped teaching when they got into modes and divided English up into things you could teach and things that you were't allowed to teach. He also mentioned "Double Gina on Friday afternoon," something I think we can all relate to as we all have a Gina in our teaching lives.

Joe proceeded to amuse us all by describing a lesson in which he said nothing and only shrugged when the students asked if he was planning on teaching them. He did some great imitations of parents at teacher-parent interviews. 

Then Joe told us how he it was that he became a teacher. A friend of his applied for a job on his behalf and he ended up teaching English in Spain. After that we spent too much time laughing for me to care about writing notes.

Joe told us about the teacher who influenced him: Jack. Jack read King Lear to them in sixth form and did all the parts himself because he wasn't going to let them mangle it. After a lot of very funny stuff, Joe then nearly made us all cry by telling us about visiting Jack when he was ill. 

So, we laughed a lot, nearly cried, and were told that English was about teaching everything and nothing. 

It was all true.

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