Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Literary Affair

It has been a busy month for Jeanette Winterson. At he beginning of August she flew to Australia together with her partner and personal therapist, Susie Orbach to attend Byron Bay Writers' Festival where she spoke about her struggles as a writer and the way she coped with loss and depression: "I’d always had enough fuel and energy to push me forward, and find a way through using language and writing (...) It caused me to go into a place that was completely terrifying because I’d lost language… I lost any sense of being able to describe what was happening to me.”
Then, just a few days ago she published two articles for The Guardian, both as part of a series whose topics are "My Hero" and the weekend special "The One that Got Away".
I quite enjoyed discovering who my hero's hero is... and it is Kate Bush, the one who gave Jeanette's "19 year old self a strategy for life and art" and I can empathize with the impatience of looking forward to seeing her in a concert this very week, 35 years after the revelatory moment. Kate offered Jeanette "salvation of a different kind", and this is what true heroes do, don't they?

The article on lost love is simply a beautiful gem, a piece of writing whose words you would like to remember forever because they show Jeanette's genius in recreating a piece of her past, love related, without naming anyone in particular.

"I realised a few years ago that the script I was running through all my relationships was a narrative of loss. Either I chose, or let myself be chosen by, people who weren't free (those were the exciting ones), or I had bouts of duty where I tried to settle down in a way guaranteed to find me secret-sighing over someone else. Changing that story changed my relationship with myself – which is, after all, the relationship all other relationships must negotiate." 

These words reminded me of her lines from "The Powerbook":
"The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is never told. I have to tell it myself.
What is it I have to tell myself again and again?
That there is always a new beginning, a different end.
I can change the story. I am the story.

If you are familiar with her attempt of committing suicide after one of her relationships had ended (subject she talks about in her memoir "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?") then reading this optimistic take on her past love and loss is quite uplifting and it shows how much she evolved emotionally.

"Love is hard work. We don't hear enough about that. Falling in love is the easy part – it's why affairs are so exciting and attractive – none of the toil, all of the fun. I used to have a lot of affairs until I realised it was like growing cress on a flannel – instant results, no roots."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEANETTE! Thank you for being a neverending inspiration! :) 
P.S. Madonna attended the same concert last night in London, how cool and 'coming full circle' that is? :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beauty and Sadness

 Another month, another book by a Japanese writer... This time it was Kawabata's masterpiece, "Beauty and Sadness". It is a book about lost love, regret and the way we may or may not cope with all that, in fact, it is a sad story, one that leaves you pondering over the way one can (or cannot) move beyond despair and unshared love. It is the story whose main characters are the feelings people experience, not themselves. It is the place where hesitation and indecision alter the characters forever.

"Oki had thought he would telephone her the next day, if not that night, or drop in at her house. But in the morning, after being awakened by his neighbors' children, he began to feel hesitant, and decided to send her a special letter. As he sat at the writing desk staring perplexedly at a blank sheet of hotel stationery he decided that he need not see her, that it would be enough to hear the bells alone and then go back."

If you are the type of person that enjoys haiku, then you will find the story simply beautiful because to me, it felt like one, even if it stretches over 160 pages, not 17 syllables.  Written 50 years ago and being Kawabata's last published work, "Beauty and Sadness" presents the old writer Oki and his obsession with lost love decades ago, when Otoko loved him but he betrayed her. The story turns into a love triangle meant to go wrong... 

“Time passed. But time flows in many streams. Like a river, an inner stream of time will flow rapidly at some places and sluggishly at others, or perhaps even stand hopelessly stagnant. Cosmic time is the same for everyone, but human time differs with each person. Time flows in the same way for all human beings; every human being flows through time in a different way.” 

Read for my pleasure and for the Japanese Reading Challenge 8

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Day of Soul Mates

From 10th August at dusk until the 11th at the same time, kabbalists celebrate TU B'AV, the holiday of love that happens during the full moon of the month of Leo and it is regarded as the day in which all the mysteries of Kabbalah were revealed, so this actually makes it the most powerful day of the year.
It is the day in which we can discover who we really are by connecting to the positive energy around us, but this can only be done by letting go of who we are, of past chaos, of our fears, limitations and rigid ideas and ask for the light. We need to let go in order to let the Creator come in. Also, kabbalists state that changing by ourselves is impossible and this is the reason why we need to leave our comfort zone and give love in order to receive love.
If you want to find out more about soul mates from a kabbalistic point of view, Karen Berg explains the concept in short, here.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What is CPS?

 As defined in the PISA 2015 draft, CPS, short for Collaborative Problem Solving, is “a critical and necessary skill across educational settings and in the workforce (…) It is the capacity of an individual to effectively engage in a process whereby two or more agents attempt to solve a problem by sharing the understanding and effort required to come to a solution and pooling their knowledge, skills and efforts to reach that solution”. 

Since “no man is an island” (John Donne), we, as teachers, are bound to know how to tackle such an issue in order to teach it well and emphasize its use when it comes to collaborating to solve a task. Even if great minds can think alike, different minds can bring to the table different talents and ways of seeing the world and creativity should always be an aspect we cherish and assess when solving a task. CPS is more complex than usual group work because it includes a lot of different behaviors and strands, at different levels. 
The social and cognitive skills involved in CPS are quite complex and they demonstrate the vast area of expertise that those who have to finalize a task should possess. On the one hand, certain students can be good at looking for information, while others excel at organizing it and setting the right strategies to reach their solution, not after serious negotiation has taken place. On the other hand, when working together, students inevitably see how things can be done differently and they definitely learn from their peers, even without realizing it. This exchange of certain skills is one of the aspects that are of extreme importance when students are involved in CPS activities because they can all evolve and learn from each other without the stress of being too aware of that process and having to reach a certain level of knowledge.