Published: March 31st 2011March 31st 2011
Teaching is in essence a peculiar activity; being a teacher in the first place assumes you have some innate knowledge of the subject you´re teaching, along with the authority and confidence to teach it. Yet teachers sometimes have to study harder than the students themselves. I came here thinking that teaching English would be fairly simple, as, you know, I speak it. But when in the first lesson of a ´first certificate group´class, someone asks you about prepositions, and ends their sentence with "presumably", you need to start revising those assumptions...
Argentina had a long weekend a couple of days back of four days; a time I thought could be spent asleep and enjoying the sun with my earphones in. Not so. Turns out that Nahuel´s Father (who´s really nice but scares me half to death for some reason) and some of his friends from Chile and Western Argentina were coming to see the family, and they were also really nice guys. We´d met the week before in San Luis to go for pizza and shop for shoes for Tiao. One of the family friends is a professor and vice-dean of the university at Neuquen. I was speaking to that
guy alot, since he spoke English, but funnily enough most of them did. We visited La Punta, a city that was built for the first time in 2001. Already it has a horse racing track, a stadium, a hotel and casino, and two English institutes, along with 30,000 people. You can see, in this region of Argentina (and I´m told it's the same elsewhere), these strange developments rising rapidly out of the scrubland at the government´s bequest, dwarfed by the huge sierras they were built in the shadow of. On the clean but barren roads you might see twenty conceptual sculptures on a ten mile drive. This region is hungry for investment, and for prosperity, but vanity projects abound. The provincial governor, Alberto Rodríguez Saá, is said to have squandered the money afforded to his province through a policy of political appeasement rather than building essential infrastructure. And the same story is heard all over Argentina. I´ve befriended a 23 year-old law student, David, through his involvement in the institute here. He speaks almost perfect English. In one of our talks, he lamented the rampant corruption evident in Argentina´s governance; the large sums of money that keep appearing and disappearing and the club-like culture of the Argentinian political elite. The state of politics here is actually quite alarming, and social stability seems to hang by a thread. I was so affected by what people say here about how they´re governed that I´m writing all this here instead of funny stuff. It´s true that, until you come to another country, you really don´t know how it´s going to be.
Anyway, that´s enough of that. Back to my clever-cloggs first certificate group. In ways I prefer my perpetually noisy ´2nd youngsters´group to my FCE group. The FCEs know almost too much...In a discussion about energy, someone shouted out "geothermal!" and "hydroelectric" when I was expecting them to say something along the lines of "earth" or "sea". When I tried to do some pictionary with them, they wanted to have a discussion about the ethics of abortion. So, I went with it. Bad idea. Remember, Argentinians are largely a mix of Spanish and Italian, two of the most hot-blooded and passionate peoples on the planet. Abortion, being a controversial subject at the best of times, should under no circumstances be discussed in a highly Catholic country, especially when views in the classroom differ. The religious aspect, coupled with the combined fire of the Mediterranean nations tore the classroom asunder in a whirlwind of rhetoric... My Spanish isn´t great yet, but I´m pretty sure swearing
was going on. Yes, swearing
Next week we´re doing euthanasia. *sigh*
Aha! But I did come up with a plan I did! Next week, between each point, we´re going to jog for twenty seconds on the spot. Hopefully, they´ll be too tired to shout at each other, and I can reconsolidate control over both them and my eardrums.
next week: I GET ATTACKED! STAY TUNED!