Topic A: Some
people say "The best things in life are free." Agree or disagree.
Second essay: The Teacher as Student
What is Best in Life is Free
It is often said that
“The best things in life are free.” So true, I think. Although the
“best things” are many in number, there are three worth mentioning here
Some of the best free
things in life are the wind and the rain. In Vancouver, we have plenty
of both, particularly this past winter. Perhaps a meteorologist could
explain it better than I, but when two weather fronts collide, the wind
will surely come. And when the moist air off the Pacific Ocean rises
where it meets the slopes of the North Shore mountains, then we are
blessed with the long grey days of rain for which Vancouver is famous.
Whenever I hear about the many countries facing drought (including our
own Prairies), I remind myself of the incredible blessing of these free
free thing is the sound of my children’s voices. Not the children
themselves, of course, for they are an expensive luxury. But their
voices, now that comes to me for free. Just last night my son and
daughter laughed over a costume my son was going to use in a school
play. I merely needed to sit, entranced, while their peels of laughter
played over my waiting ears. Or, when my son or daughter mumble a quick
thank you, that is always music to my ears. They want so much to be
grown up now that that small sound is something no payment may ever
measure. A child’s voice is a lovely thing, and free.
Best of all, among
all the things that are free, are the thoughts that fill my mind as I
pass each waking day. There is no price on the fleeting notions passing
by as I drive, alone, home tonight from the writing class I teach.
Sometimes, I am almost home before I realize that my solitary reverie
has carried me off into some other world. It may have been something
someone said to me that day, or a smile, or a unique event in one of my
student’s lives; whatever it is, we cannot buy it with money, that is
for sure. Our thoughts belong to us, requiring nothing more than our
continued breathing and are therefore always free.
So, we receive these
“things” for free, and they are among the best we have in our short
time living on this Earth. Imagine the pleasure I might have while
standing in the rain, hearing my children talking together, thinking
about life in all its beauty.
Topic B: What
can teachers learn from their students? Discuss
Teacher as Student
students; everyone knows that it is true. But how many of us think of
the things that teachers can learn from their students? Teachers can,
and do, learn to be humble, to respect the work of learning, and to
value the diversity of their students.
One thing I have
always learned from my students is the value of humility in a teacher.
Being human, a teacher is fallible. Perhaps students may believe
otherwise, but every day that I teach, this fact is hammered home to
me. I make mistakes, forget, teach less well that I would desire myself
to be taught. The value of this humility is in admitting it, both to
myself and to the students who trust me to judge them fairly. Today a
comma rule escaped me. I could have said I knew it, and hoped my answer
was correct. Instead, I said to my student that I could not remember
and said I would have to look up the rule to be sure. Of course, she
forgave me. Students humble teachers with their trust, and so teach us
teachers can learn from their students is how hard it is, exactly, to
learn something. Oftentimes, a teacher comes to a subject or discipline
due to a natural aptitude for it, or an enthusiasm. For that teacher,
the learning of the subject was perhaps easier than for most, and that
is where the student can remind a teacher that, indeed, learning is
hard hard work. If a teacher sees a student struggle, then that teacher
can learn that, for many (if not most) of us each study is a challenge.
To be reminded of the difficulty of learning is a lesson students teach
their teachers every day.
The last, and most
wonderful, of all the things that students teach their teachers is
about the diversity of the people around them. In my job, as teacher of
many newcomers to Canada, I learn more, much more, than I teach, it
seems, some days. This week I learned about the meaning of graciousness
as it applies to inviting others to your home in China. To be gracious,
the invitation must be sincere, so much so that you are tested, by the
firm “no” you will receive to your first and second (or more)
invitations. Clearly, you will be welcomed if your host has asked you
the third time, for you are sure, then, of a warm welcome!
Teachers learn many things from
their students, indeed. It is always valuable for a teacher to
understand when he is wrong, to notice the sweat and determination
needed to succeed, and to meet the many diverse people who inhabit his