Happy New Year and Sawubona!
I am finally starting.. my first blog. Thanks for showing up here! You'll see there are two versions.. the shorter one will give you the gist.. the longer one is...longer! I look forward to hearing from you if you feel inspired and I wish you the best for 2016!
Welcome to inside between within through.
I am grateful to be writing and grateful you are reading.
This blog has been slowly starting inside of me for a long time. It is a new year and a good time to start something new.
I had a hard time really writing as it has been hard (in the noise of busy-ness) to hear my voice, have strength in my heart and clarity in my mind. It has also been hard to find a name. When inside between within through came to me and felt right.
I will tell you more about why in future postings.
I hope to hear from you.
All the best to you in 2016!
Longer version :
Welcome and hello and Happy New Year!
It is sweet to be writing and I am grateful that you are reading. I am starting a new chapter in my life and writing is going to be a part of this chapter. Blogging has been churning and slowing growing inside of me for many years. I’ve been making lists and halfway starting. Friends' colleagues' blogs (Dawn, Josette, Katherine, Jessica, Wilma, Bethany and Tana and Zhenya to name a few) inspired and provoke gratitude for how they have given us access to their thoughts, experience, feelings, hopes and challenges in ways that make me want to respond, write, dive into life and become more alive and connected to the world I am experiencing. The dialogue, learning and connections that they have promoted and cultivated by providing both stimuli and containers for discussion in inspiring and has enriched my life in ways that they most likely do not know. I am in awe of the unknown ripple effect that comes from their offerings. I hope to offer my explorations of what is happening inside and between learners and teachers, within the contexts we/they are living and through the lenses we/they are using to see and understand experiences and by (hopefully) contributing and dialoguing with you, I know that I will also be enriched. So thanks in advance.
Inside of me, it has been tricky for me to figure out a way to begin. For a number of years, I have wanted to start. I have a long list of quotes and anecdotes and topics that I have wanted to think-through-writing and that might be relevant and useful. I have lists of questions that participants have asked over the years and stories that I seem to keep telling. Encouragement has come from friends and colleagues. For over 20 years I have enjoyed writing for myself to explore my own ideas, feel alive and create art and at the same time I have been very shy to put them forth in a written format - except when absolutely forced to and even then I don't always come through in a timely fashion.
I also have a very strong and active "doubting mind and heart." How can I find a way to commit to putting thoughts out in the public sphere? Who is the public sphere, who is the audience? Could I ever write for someone else? What kind of voice will feel authentic, relevant and real? Will I really find time to do this? What about the unfinished projects that are sitting quietly (and not so quietly) on my to-do list? I’ve recently been labeled as verbose. How do I hold that? How much is enough? Too much? How do I balance listening to other’s thoughts and opinions with what is in my heart and mind? What takes priority? What is my true intention? How can I focus on something specific enough but also broad enough to encompass whatever it is I will be writing? And... what name would I put to it?
It was this last question that has always stopped me cold and provided a great reason to not begin! No name! I am the kind of writer that likes to name things last - to create them and then name them. I write to explore and I find out what I am writing about as I go through the process. So how could I start a blog without a name? And how might I have a name with the blog? I was enjoying the freedom that this puzzle gave me - the freedom to not write, to not commit... when inside and between jumped out like a little forgotten Christmas gift waiting to be opened. Of course! Inside and between come from a quote by Earl Stevick (1980) that has been guiding me for 25 years: “Success in the language classroom depends less on materials, techniques or linguistic analysis, and more on what goes on inside and between the people in the classroom…the most important aspect of "what goes on" is the presence or absence of harmony: it is the parts working with, or against, one another.” What happens inside and between the people involved is what makes or breaks learning. But wait.. there is more!
After sitting on this name for a few weeks, two other words also appeared – within and through. To explore fully it is important to me to honor the fact that learning is a social reality as much as it is an individual experience. I need to look at what is happening inside and between the people involved and I also need to acknowledge and work from an understanding that we operate within a context and I see through a certain lens in order to see the context, myself and others within that context.
Exploring these four centers, both intuitively and explicitly, has been my focus for many years. My intention with this blog to use these four perspectives and writing to think through experiences I have had in learning, teaching and teacher training and to see what comes. I hope to develop more clarity on each of them. I hope this writing will be of use. I hope we’ll have some dialogue and that unexpected things will emerge.If you feel inspired to respond, I humbly receive!
In gratitude and best wishes for a new year filled with love, joy, creativity, learning and magic!
inside between within through
ps. I am new at this - any kind and gentle suggestions are very welcome!
Stevick, E. W., Hu, C., & Wang, D. (1998). Working With Teaching Methods: What's at Stake?. Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
Stevick, E. W. (1980). Teaching Languages: A Way and Ways. Rowley: Newbury House Publishers.
Mary lives in rural Costa Rica, teaches both at home and abroad, and enjoys and struggles with learning, teaching, writing, not-writing, and exploring the realities, tensions, challenges, joys and mysteries of what happens inside and between learners within the context of their experience in the world and through the lenses used to see and make sense of it all. (yes, this is wordy, but it actually does encompass my intention!) . She weaves mindfulness, empathy, curiosity and joy into her work and learning. She can be reached at admin-at-espiralmana.org. You can find our more about what she and her institute are up to at www.espiralmana.org and facebook pages: Centro Espiral Mana and Aprendiendo en la comunidad de Centro Espiral Mana.