Monday, January 14, 2008

In love

Science class, this morning. A couple of students - boy and girl, aged 14, he's in love with her - were presenting their poster research about the solar system. I added something about the way a star gets old, saying that when the sun is about to die, it will get bigger and bigger, swallowing the planets around it. Someone said "Let's hope we are not here anymore!" and I replied "Don't worry, in fact it will happen in 5 billion years, so by then we'll all be dead and turned into dust since a very very long time". And the boy said "No! How is it possible that such a beautiful girl dies?"
I just replied that we are all going to die for sure, sooner or later - rather predictably, I admit.
But later on, at home, I thought that the romantic pimply boy had said something deeply true. How is it that her fair, delicate girlfriend may die? His heart knows this is absurd.
A loving heart knows best. He can see that there is something deeply un-human in death. That we all are created to live, created for life.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Something about me - as a teacher

I am 45 years old and I live in Milan, Italy. I have a degree in biology and a Ph.D. in molecular biology, because I wanted to be a researcher, but things went differently. Just when I finished my studies - and I had just got married - my husband fell ill and was not well for the following 8 years. Obviously I had to quit research, because that's a job that has no time table and no guaranteed income; at least in Italy things go this way.
I started teaching science in Samara, a small private school for teenage help-cooks-to-be (I have no idea of how to say it in english: they prepared to help professionally in cooking for restaurants, hospitals etc.) and it was a great teacher's training for me. Our girls used to choose that school exactly because they didn't like to study, and with that school they could start working after 2 years only. Well, I was in a team of teachers so enthusiastic and skilled that most girls decided to go on studying (in high school) after the second year! and they did very well afterwards.
My colleagues taught me to handle pupils one by one, to look at them straight in their eyes, to trust them, even if they seem they don't deserve it: they will, when they realize you count on them. These are still the basics of my method. They always work.
After 5 years' experience in Samara I felt ready for "real" public schools, and I started doing substitutions in high school, science classes. After 1 year of short substitutions, I spent 4 years more being exclusively a support teacher for special need students. Some of them were seriously disabled, and had severe psychiatric problems besides the physical ones. It was very hard work, though very beautiful. I came home exhausted every day, mostly emotionally. It resembled my childhood dramatically: I have only one sister, 1 year younger than me, who is disabled, and the first part of my life has been heavily conditioned by her presence. Everybody said that I was "instinctively" good at managing special need students, but I knew the reason... I had done that job since I was a toddler! And that had cost me a lot!
During the last 2 years I was back doing substitions on my subject, science, and that has been wonderful. I regularly fall in love with my class groups, and they rather like me in return. I have a great time teaching. Real fun. We laugh a lot, and still, we work really hard. I was very lucky, also, because I got very long substitutions, lasting almost the whole school year. The down part is that I change school every year, but that's not too bad. Different schools have different people, different methods, different perspectives. Big experience for me.
In the meanwhile I never got the opportunity to have my ABILITAZIONE, which is the piece of paper saying that you are officially a teacher and you can stop being a substitute. What's it called in english? Well, after a long wait , finally a course came out: I am currently attending it, with lessons, exams, thesis and everything... In march '08 I should get my ABILITAZIONE. Let's say that I could hopefully get a steady teaching job around 2012. By that time I will be 50...
Long story! But now you can understand that I really love my job, even if it wasn't what I had originally chosen. Now I think research was not good for me. But that's another story.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy new year!

May 2008 bring good things to you all.
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