It was a big change from my everyday hermit's life where I sing aimless little tunes as I paint or talk to Kenya from time to time. ... a life where I can live almost entirely in my own head. Yesterday I had to spend three hours in conversation with a very demanding student.
The good thing is that he is intelligent and challenging ... and he makes me think.
His English is as good as that of most Canadian students I have met and better than the drivel spoken by your average teen. He leaps on words like enigma and dilemma and demands that they be clearly defined so that he can used them and all their derivatives intelligently.
On the negative side is his propensity for writing obscurely as he makes sense of complex ideas and follows them into knotty little puzzles that need untangling.
So ... my job in the next 9 hours I have with him is to challenge him with vocabulary and ideas that are new to him and to encourage him to write clearly about them.
The other teacher working with him on Mondays and Fridays noted that he paused while he spoke. I asked what goes on during these pauses because I suspected that they were unrelated to the language he was speaking. He told me that comprehends things as patterns, almost diagrammatically, and chooses which thread of logic or which part of the whole pattern to choose for the conversation given his audience and the topic.
So ... I will simply pretend while I have him as my student that I have been gifted with a very bright English speaking student who does not want to waste his time on things that are boring. But I might also try to introduce the concept of empathy into the mix as I challenge him intellectually.
I am thinking about starting with the words "enigma" and "dilemma" and seeing how they play out with the notions of assimilation and apartheid ... perhaps as they relate to aboriginal peoples here in Canada and elsewhere ... perhaps as they relate to the Middle East conflict.
Besides waking up my brain, this job has the advantage of paying better than dog sitting!