Thursday, May 31, 2007

Their generation

I've seen teasers of this on telly lately, but I came across the link to the YouTube vid via Ewan McIntosh. It had him in stitches. It had totally the opposite effect on me! Mind you, Mr Bean makes me cry, too (so lonely, so socially inept!). I know, I know!

This is a generation that survived at least one world war and the Great Depression. Those toothless, frail old men were once dashing young rakes - possibly even decorated war heroes. Those bent old dears were once nubile young women who held hearth and home together while the men were away - many of them venturing out into the workplace for the first time. They knew the hardship and deprivation of rationing. They saw cities bombed to bits. Many of them saw their families fragmented by the evacuation of children to safer locations. Some of them may even have been evacuees themselves. The whole world has changed completely since "their day" and they have had to learn to cope with that change: modes of travel, methods of communication, forms of entertainment, technologies in the workplace, banking, space travel... the list is long! Their hard-earned wisdom is often written off as being irrelevant and useless. I mentioned in a recent post how my grandfather asked on his 90th birthday, "What's the point of a lifetime of experience, if no-one wants to know?"

I found myself paraphrasing Tiny Tim as I watched these game folks really giving their all to the performance and having a whale of a time: "God bless them, every one!"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stop Cyberbullying?

How odd! I had never personally experienced cyberbullying before. I joined the Ning Stop Cyberbullying community largely because of what happened to Kathy Sierra.

I accepted friendship requests from anyone who made them, thinking - probably naievely - that they had read something I had written somewhere and felt some kind of synergy with me. Some of the requests came from people who write like my teenagers do - all IM-and text-speak and scrambled grammar. I was fairly sure they were teenagers themselves, and wondered why they should want to befriend me, but shrugged and hit accept.

Next thing I knew, I was being bombarded with demands as to why I wasn't chattering them, and didn't I know that ignoring a person online was a kind of bullying, too? When one of them asked me if Karyn Romeis was my real name (which it is, although I only came by the second bit by marriage), because it was a really stupid one, I decided that enough was enough.

Looking through the pages of all the people who have signed up as my friends I find screeds of messages of accusation from one member to another. It seems some people seem to have signed up to the forum for the express purpose of mutual accusations of cyberbullying. Alternatively, there seems to be an equal market for mea culpa: I've been a terrible cyberbully to you all, can you ever forgive me? Puh-lease!

I know a lot of really wonderful people belong to the community, and I have enormous respect for them. However, I don't know how much of an impact a network like this can really have on what is a very serious problem. Especially when there is this kind of petty in-fighting and attention-seeking going on. So I'm giving serious consideration to opting out of it.

If you have seen evidence of the community making a difference in your sphere, or if you're seeing a different picture from the one I've described above, please let me know!

Learning from experience

A long time ago, I did something irresponsible that landed me in a whole heap of trouble. The consequences were unavoidable, and I had to decide what course of action to take. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make and I opted for a course of action I still regard as one of my bravest and most unselfish choices. The course of action I chose very nearly finished me off, but I pulled through and, many years later, pretty much everyone who knows the deal agrees that I took the right course of action.

Now someone I love dearly is in the same situation. Exactly the same decision must be made for exactly the same reasons. But this time, the voice of experience can speak.

But of course, the voice of experience is not welcome. "But, Karyn, I saw what it did to you, and there is no way I could go through that!" O-okay. So I point out what the alternatives are and explain why I rejected each of them. I explain why there is no easy solution to this situation. I point out that everyone agrees that what I did was for the best, including the person now in this position. "I know, but it's too hard!" I'm told. I explain why the alternatives are no easier. "I know - you're right, but I just can't do it!"

Does that one image of me at my lowest ebb count for more than everything I have achieved since - most of which, if I'm brutally honest, is largely as a consequence of taking the initial blow, and enduring its backlash over many years? When people who have known me all my life picture me, do they only see the defeated, broken creature I became for a while? Do they not see the steady climb out of the mire, the gradual return of joy, the moments of subsequent triumph? What a sobering thought!

Are we destined only and always to learn from our own tragedies, from our own brushes with darkness? Here I am, hearing again in my head the voice of my grandfather on his 90th birthday, saying, "What's the point of a lifetime's experience if no-one wants to know?"

Now that the rubber has hit the road and we are talking about a deeply significant life experience rather than some theoretical knowledge or skill, I find that I don't want this person I love to have a learner-driven experience. I want to give them as a gift what I gained at great personal cost.

But alas... it doesn't work like that, does it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remembering why I started down this road

Tonight, as part of our thinking skills lecture, we watched a segment of a video of Feuerstein teaching thinking skills to disaffected children in Israel. I watched him stimulate the kids' minds to think creatively, to solve problems using material that meant it didn't matter if they had missed out on learning the content most kids would have learned by this age. And I remembered why I became a learning professional in the first place. I wanted to empower people, to enable, to give people a leg up, to give them access to something they needed help to reach.

Okay, I'm in a bad place right now, and tomorrow I might feel very differently, but tonight, at 11:38pm, I feel as if I've lost my way. Anybody got a map? Where are those people whose lives will be better because someone like me came across their path? I've lost sight of them.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Irrelevant but impressive just the same

A fellow South African ex-pat living in the UK sent me a link to this YouTube video showing a pitched battle between a herd of buffalo, a pride of lion and a crocodile.

It has no direct relevance to learning and teaching, but it's awesome just the same. If you like things to happen quickly, you might be frustrated to start with, but stick with it, it's worth the wait. And if you possibly can, get someone who knows Afrikaans to watch it with you to translate the background dialogue - it describes things not always visible on camera, adding to the context and the suspense.

Appearances and how much they (don't) count

I have just returned from a ladies' retreat. Of course, all sorts of things went on that were important to me, but not many of them have relevance to this blog. One incident that happened early in the weekend, however, serves as an analogy that does belong here.

One of the organisers of the weekend invited anyone who was interested to join her for a short run early on the Saturday morning. I decided to take her up on her offer. Now I haven't run for a long time, due to what appears to have become a permanent problem with my left knee, but I still have all the kit. So, when I appeared at the ridiculous hour of 7:30am on Saturday morning, I was dressed for the occasion. There were only going to be three of us on the run, and the other two were a little intimidated by my apparel. They were wearing an assortment of clothes from Tesco (read Fred Myers or Walmart). I on the other hand, was dressed from head to toe - including (ahem) foundation garments - in proper running gear. Running shorts, running top, running shoes with custom-made insoles. It all added up to a rather expensive and convincing looking ensemble.

But you know what?

I couldn't keep up with them. I am unfit for a start (see my goal meme post) and, to make matters worse, I developed asthma almost straight away (which I normally only do in around June/July) and my knee gave me a lot of gyp. Bless them, the other two kept stopping and waiting for me to catch up.

My point is that it's not about the kit. It's not about looking the part. It's not about impressing people with flashy custom features. It's about delivering the goods. I may have looked the part, my flashy exterior only served to raise expectations which made my below par performance even more noticeable.

When we develop learning resources, we need to bear this in mind. Don't get me wrong, I like aesthetics as much as (possibly more than) the next person - I like my resources to look good, to make a good first impression on the user. But let's face it, for all its good looks, if the resource runs slowly, wheezes and limps along, the user is not likely to want to use it again.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Gutted! No learning innovations conference for Karyn

Rats and double rats! I have learned today that my request to attend the Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning conference in Santa Clara in September has been turned down. Phooey.

Bless the man, my husband thinks I should go anyway, and is determined to do everything in his power to find a way to fund it. I am pretty close to absolutely certain we can't afford it, but his willingness brings a lump to my throat.

The cost of the conference at the early bird rate works out to around £450, which isn't really a great deal of money - less than the cost of many local conferences, in fact. The problem comes in when you start adding things like airfares - the cheapest I have found has been £377 return; hotels - the cheapest being around £32/day and less than a mile from the conference venue; and meals - £?? Plus taxis and shuttles to and from airports and hotels and stuff. Since the really cheap airfare only applies if I stay in the US for a week (a week within spitting distance of San Fransisco, my second favourite city in the world - what a trial!), I would have to pay for a week of hotels and meals. Let's call it £300. I have no idea how much the taxis and shuttles would be, but let's make up a figure based on complete ignorance of £50. Where are we now? £1177. Or roughly $2320. That's a lot of money for an individual person to stump up.

What I do think, though, is that the good folks at Brandon Hall have missed a trick. I'm totally with their view that it helps to get together in person from time to time and online conferences aren't the answer to everything. The thing is though, that online conferences aren't the only alternative. With the technology that is available to them, surely they could have run parallel conferences in major centres around the world (London, Tokyo, Sydney, Cape Town...) via simulcast? That way presenters, vendors and delegates from outside of the USA would be able to participate from a more local venue. I'm fairly sure that for a bunch of wild-eyed learning zealots such as we are the time difference would have been a minor matter. What surprises me most about the fact that this approach has not been adopted is the fact that the conference page displays this little box.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Philosophy for children - what a pity we need it!

Last night, our thinking skills lecture slot was guest run by a woman from SAPERE. She introduced us to the concept of Philosophy for Children (P4C), starting as young as the age of 4.

There was some debate about the name, apparently, since philosophy has developed a bad rep in some quarters. But they decided to stick with it. The kids aren't studying philosophy or becoming disciples of this or that philosopher. They are learning to philosophise: philos = love + sophos = wisdom. So...

The use some stimulus like a photo, a piece of music, a movie clip, a story book. Then they ask the children to come up with questions based on the stimulus. The children then vote on a single question to discuss during the session. We had a go at it ourselves and chose the question "Why don't we value non-conformity?" based on a children's picture book about a little boy who was a nonconformist. It was an interesting and valuable exercise, with many people saying they didn't know what they thought until they starting hearing other people's views and found themselves agreeing or disagreeing.

The initiative has not been universally welcomed, but where it has been introduced at schools, it has apparently had enormous success. It has been introduced to children of various ages, and even to adults, when the parents/grandparents of the children have developed an interest. In some schools it has become a timetabled session. In others, the requirement is for the principles to be introduced into other subjects in the curriculum. Through last night's session, I began to recognise the ways in which at least my elder son is receiving teaching of this nature ("In the play Blood Brothers, how does class affect the relationship between the two boys?")

Children who have been exposed to this approach have apparently almost universally shown improvement across the board.

This is all wonderful and very exciting, but it makes me want to say, "Well duh!" What makes me sad is that it is necessary for schools even to be doing this. I mean, what are families for? Where are all the lively dinner discussions? The rainy weekend debates? The discussions over board games? What ever happened to conversation, for goodness sake?

It has always been my view that parents are the primary educators, and I have stuck by that view in the face of some pretty stiff opposition from schools along the way, and part of the parental responsibility must surely include teaching children to think, to consider.

Twitter: I don't get it

I have seen several mentions of Twitter in blogposts, but kind of assumed it was something along the lines of Explode, which I have already joined and occasionally use (although more often than the stats on my blog-widget would indicate!) so I didn't pay it much attention. Then Vicki Davis prodded me to join, and since I have a great deal of respect for her, I thought I'd look into it.

I duly joined, and entered 5 updates. But I can't see what else a person is supposed to do there. I seem to have acquired a friend - possibly the person who is behind Twitter (I can't connect to it today to check, but his name seemed familiar). I can't see for the life of me how to connect with people I know who already part of the network. I can see how to invite new people to join, but that doesn't help. I have spent some time watching the barrage of random snippets of information that get broadcast. I have looked at the map to see where everyone is. All very interesting, but so far, I haven't actually found out how to have a conversation with anyone or enter into a meaningful exchange.

I was feeling somewhat inadequate, until I saw this from Stephen Downes today. Now I feel a bit better, but I still can't help wondering whether I'm missing the whole point somehow.

There is a song that opens with the line "There must be more than this..." That line very aptly describes my feelings as I sat staring uncomprehendingly at the screen as the world map swung back and forth and snippets of information flashed before my eyes. The very fact that there is so much traffic must mean that people are getting something out of the whole thing. I just don't get it!

Anyone care to enlighten me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tagged with the goal meme

I have been tagged with the goal meme by Lynn. The idea is to list your goals and then to tag five other people. So here goes:

I am currently studying part time towards an MA in Education. I aim to finish that by October 2009. I am actually currently on track to finish a year early in October next year, but I don't want to put myself under undue pressure. The dissertation bit is a big ask! Apart from the MA, there is so much other learning I want to do. I want to make the most of learning opportunities that come my way, and to make opportunities to learn where they might not necessarily exist.

I hope to see more people become involved in this ongoing conversation that is Web 2.0, particularly the edublogosphere. I aim to do my best to make known the opportunities for disproportionate professional development. It bothers me that so few learning professionals have been bitten by the learning bug themselves. I don't understand how a learning professional can not be passionate about their own learning.

I want to make some changes to my job role, somehow regaining contact with learners. After 17 years of face-to-face contact with learners, two years without them has been too long. The thing is, I have had ample opportunity to go back to life as a full-time delivery consultant, but that's not what I want, either. I like the world of blended learning. Hmm. How to find a way to combine the two.

Since I started studying, I have allowed my exercise regime to slip and I have gained weight and lost condition. I keep promising to fix both those things. It's really simple: eat less, exercise more. The trick is finding the will!

I aim to go back to South Africa for a holiday next year with my husband and sons. I hope to spend a week on the east coast with my parents, and then to undertake the long trip down to Cape Town where some members of my husband's family live. In spite of all my talk about how I no longer belong in South Africa, I am worried that I will find it hard to leave Cape Town. I moved there 20 years ago this year, and it very quickly claimed my heart - it still has it, even 8 years after leaving, and there is just something about that mountain. I am one of many Capetonians who refer to it as "my mountain", but my devotion to that landmark runs so deep that even my friends call it "Karyn's mountain".

Okay - I think five is enough. So who shall I tag next? Apologies if any of those listed below have already been tagged earlier in the meme!


Mark Oehlert

Michael Gorey

Dave Cormier

Harold Jarche

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Future of Education conference

You may not be a teacher - I’m not either. You may not work in the field of formal education - I don’t either. But for one reason or another, we’re all interested in education. Because we’re learners ourselves, or because we have children going through their education. Or because once, long ago, we had a teacher who scarred us for life, or empowered us beyond what we would have thought possible.

The Future of Education is an online confereence being organised by George Siemens on behalf of the University of Manitoba. The presenters are drawn from a wide range of sectors and countries, and the delegates (if the last of George’s conferences was anything to go by) will be an even more eclectic lot. The Elluminate platform absolutely rocks! The presenters are able to make use of a whiteboard for slides, and their presentation is delivered real time over the audio channel. Delegates have access to a chat facility during the presentation, any may pose questions or make observations this way, or by “raising a hand” to request the microphone. Conversations continue after the presentation via the conference Moodle. Considering the logistics involved, a remarkable sense of community is established.

Be there. No, really - be there!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The gatekeepers of truth

This is one that has been knocking about in my head for a few weeks now. I have touched on the matter in conversation with a few people, so you might have heard my musings on this subject before. My thoughts are still not really defined, but I need to unload them because they are taking up too much space in my head, and something in the graphic of this post from Mark Berthelemy has set the bees buzzing again.

In the not-quite-two-years that I've been reading, commenting on and writing blog posts, I have learnt more than in the preceding 17 years as a learning professional. Many of my ideas ideas have changed completely - not only in respect of my own job and immediate working environment, but on wider issues as well, both professional and personal. The list in my aggregator has changed often and continues to change. The posts that appear in these blogs, the comments on my own posts, the responses to my comments on other blogs, the conversation that is generated... all these things inform me, mould me and move me forward in my learning journey.

However, I have noticed that some people somehow seem to have become gatekeepers. The holders of "yes". They take issue with what other people have to say, but seem either to reject or ignore when people take issue with their views. They appear to have moved past the "that's a good point, I hadn't considered that angle" stage. I'm not going to mention names - that would be rude - but as you read this, I wonder if you aren't thinking of one or two people in your own blogroll/aggregator list who fit the description.

So who are they learning from? Are they still learning? How did they get into that position? Did they choose it themselves? Did they come to believe their own press? Or did we (their readers) make it happen?

We promote a we-are-all-learners-together approach to the classroom, encouraging teachers to move from sage-on-the-stage to guide-on-the-side. Some of our blogging teachers enthuse about how they constantly learn from their students, which is very exciting evidence that it works. But I'm a bit worried that we might be in danger of not practising what we preach in our online community. From where I'm sitting, we certainly seem to have developed a few sages on the stage. Am I wrong? Does their learning happen in an "advanced class" I have yet to discover? Like an Escher etching, am I fooled by the perspective of the view from where I'm sitting? Can I move to a different place where the view changes?

Just wondering...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ken Robinson on whether schools stifle creativity

I saw this some time ago, but someone recently drew it to my attention again and thought it was worth a mention here - it certainly still has relevance!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This month's big question: PowerPoint

Ah, so this month's big question touches on one of my hot topics: PowerPoint. I have very strong feelings on the subject of PowerPoint, but my current circumstances have sapped me of the energy needed to do this question any real justice. So please pardon me while I cop out and point to "one I made earlier."

Apologies for the apathy.

Musings about bullying and victimisation

There has been much talk lately about cyberbullying. And with good reason. I suspect that the feelings people have when they are bullied are the same, regardless of whether the bullying is conducted in the physical or the virtual, by snail mail or text message. What follows is a description of my own current experience.

Over this past weekend, the whole family was indoors when a large clod dirt suddenly hit the window ledge and shattered. We raced outside to investigate, only to have to duck as several more followed. My husband called out for the perpetrators to stop. We stood on chairs to see whether we could identify the assailants, who began to throw rocks at us. One narrowly missed my elder son's head. By this time, I had picked up the phone and dialled the police. My son called out to the perpetrators that this was the case. Another barrage of rocks answered.

The policewoman on the phone asked me who was doing this and why. She kept insisting that we must be able to describe the people, but of course, we were too busy ducking rocks to get a proper look, and between volleys, they were too careful not to be seen. We were able to see which house the rocks were coming from, were unable to identify the address, since the house is in a street that backs onto ours. This, too frustrated the policewoman who felt we should be able to provide this information.

When we bought this house almost two years ago. Many who knew us read into the purchase the decision to set down roots in the UK. Perhaps they were right, but since we moved into the house, I have had cause to call the police several times - something we have not had to do before.

Some of those times, I have already posted about. In addition, there have been other incidents of stone throwing; there has been the theft of bicycles; eggs being thrown at our house; my car being "keyed;" my younger son being threatened and harassed on his paper round. The only time the police have actually come here was after the happy slapping incident (see link above). This is because the others have been petty crimes and no-one has been hurt.

What I can say, though, is that many of these minor crimes add up. They wear a person down. While I recognise that many of the incidents are random, there has been a veritable campaign of egg- and stone-throwing. After this last incident, I informed my husband, "I don't want to live here anymore." He asked whether I was referring to the house or the country, and to be honest, I don't know the answer to that one. I feel victimised, singled out. I know in my head that the police have bigger fish to fry, but I feel abandoned and unsupported. And if I were to run away from the problem, where could I go where I could be sure that it wouldn't be just the same... or worse?

I imagine that all victims of bullying feel this same sense of helplessness and puzzlement. Why me? Why us? What have I/we ever done to them?

Note: we were subsequently able to identify one of the people as a boy from my sons' school who, together with his father, plays cricket with my husband and elder son for the local village team. And of course, I am agonising over what we have done to him to warrant this kind of treatment - there has certainly been no sign of acrimony during the long Sunday afternoon cricket matches.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The value of "I don't know"

I've been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes effective teaching. Often I come back to the view that teaching is more about who you are than what you do. So yesterday I expressed the view that passion, zeal, etc. were more valuable to a teacher than having all the answers.

Today I'd like to speak out in defence of the phrase "I don't know". Some years ago, I met up with the woman who had taught me English and history during my final two years of high school. She confessed to me that her spelling was very poor, which was the reason for her stock in trade response when anyone in the class asked how to spell a word: she would point in the direction of the dictionary on the front table. The idea then was that the student had to find the word in the dictionary and then write it on the board. The truth was that she often didn't know how to spell the word and hoped to improve her own spelling through this sneaky tactic. The occasion was an old girls' reunion and there were several teachers in the room. This anecdote generated a round of similar stories, to much hilarity. The point being that revealing ignorance to your students was a bad move.

Looking back now, I wonder about this. Why is it so risky to admit ignorance? Why must a teacher seem infallible? Surely that sets artificial standards for the learners to aspire to? It jsut smacks too much of gamesmanship to my mind (non-sequitur: isn't it weird that "gamesmanship" and "sportsmanship" are often mutually exclusive concepts?)

I was recently in a meeting where the client asked a question. The question was answered by the provider - totally inaccurately. I was appalled. He obviously had no idea, but dared not risk exposing this fact to the client. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he didn't simply turn the question over to someone on his team who knew the real answer. Similarly, if a teacher can't admit to a student that s/her doesn't know the answer, surely this opens the door to minsinformation?

If you don't know, but pretend you do, then you remain ignorant and your learner enters the world of thinking he knows when he doesn't.

I haven't always got it right, but when my learners asked me a question to which I didn't know the answer, the tactic I adopted was honesty: "I don't know, let's ask Google." "I don't know, does anyone else know?" "I don't know, why don't you try it and see?" "I don't know, let's check Help." "I don't know, but I will find out and email the answer to you. Would anyone else like to have that information?"

Even before I learned about clever things like peda- and andragogy, collaborative learning, constructivism, and all stuff, it seemed to me to be a logical approach to set the scene as being a journey we were all on together, and in which we could all learn from each other. I don't believe in lying to my kids, and I don't believe in lying to my learners. If you don't know, and say so, you create the potential for an outcome where you do know and where your learners know, too.

I can't see the downside.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Looking at learning: the importance of caring

A paper I wrote for my Masters' course took me back to my early days as a classroom-based IT trainer, running courses in things like DOS 3.3, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and the like.

My first taste of the world of IT training took place very soon after the first course I attended myself. This was way back in pre-history (well, 1989) and the trainer who ran my DOS course was atrocious. She obviously knew her stuff - there was no doubt about that, and by blindly copying her every action, we produced some very nice little interactive menus by means of which we could launch various apps on our PCs (using a function called edlin - for those who are interested).

But, in order to be able to use the operating system, one needed to know a fair amount about syntax. DOS had this infuriating little error message: Invalid command or filename - that popped up if your syntax (or your spelling or typing, for that matter) was less than exact. And screaming "But why?" at the computer elicited nothing helpful. I know. I tried. Smashing the keyboard repeatedly with both fists was equally fruitless. Rather than editing the autoxec.bat file, creating beautiful menus and writing little batch files so that we could automate the process of launching our software, what we needed to know was how to find files, how to create directories (read "folders"), how to delete files, copy files, how to format floppy disks, how to back up... that kind of stuff.

For some reason, I understood what the trainer was saying to us, and I spent the best part of the day explaining it to the rest of the class. One member of the class must have reported this on their happy sheet, because the very next day, I received the call to run the next DOS course. And so, somewhat serendipitously began what would become my career in learning and development. I would frantically work through the course manual to prepare for a course in an application I had never/hardly used before. I was quite often only one step ahead of my learners. Scary. But we muddled through, and they learnt how to use the help feature, the course material and the hard copy user manuals.

The sudden upswing in requirement for IT training meant that almost anyone with a certain level of proficiency could get drafted - I was a prime example. But quite often trainers were dire, and computer courses (as they tended to be known) were right up there with a trip to the dentist - necessary but painful. Why? Because having an understanding of the technicalities was no guarantee of an understanding of the learning process, or even of an interest in the learners' achievements post-training.

To my delight, it turned out that I was diferent. I was actually good at this. Occasionally, the sounds of my "class" laughing uproariously generated complaints from some of the other trainers, but by and large, the verdict was that learning about computers could be fun. After all, how many trainers do you know who explain absolute referencing in spreadsheets by
getting their learners to do a little dance?

Don't get me wrong, I might be blowing my own trumpet here, but I'm not claiming that I was unique - just in the minority. What made the difference was that I (and others like me) cared... a whole lot. We had empathy with the learner's position, and tried to approach things from where s/he was at.

Empathy. Passion. Enthusiasm. Zeal. These were the qualities we started with, and we learned the software skills along the way. Starting from the other end of the equation, in other words, starting with the software skills, was often a less successful tactic.

I have always maintained that skills can be learned - especially technical ones. But good teachers care about their learners. They are interested in seeing their learners take the baton and run with it. They care about their subject. They believe that the things they are teaching the learners are going to benefit them in some way. They become spontaneously animated when discussing matters related to their subject.

Recently, during a break in one of our sessions at university, one of my classmates (a music teacher) asked another of my classmates (a biology teacher) whether there was any truth to the rumour that margarine was so unhealthy that he might as well stick with oh-so-fattening butter. Her eyes lit up, she waved her arms, she drew pictures, she explained the molecular structure of margarine and what makes it unhealthy. He asked questions. He pointed at the pictures she had drawn. He made observations. I have no idea whether either of them bothered with tea that evening - they were in a little world of their own, and they were having FUN!