Sunday, November 22, 2009


Tomorrow morning we give our presentation. This is a pretty big conference as far as these things go, although we have a pretty crappy slot--second-to last slot on the last day of the conference, on a national holiday. We have to check out of our hotel and take our luggage with us to the venue, give our presentation, and then jump on a train and head to the airport. It's a rock gig, man!

In a way I wish it could be a bit more like a rock gig. It's a lot easier to bullshit my way through a tune onstage than it is to "wing it" through a spoken presentation. In fact just today I saw a very painful example of someone who wasn't properly prepared attempting to explain... Well, I'm not sure what he was trying to explain. TEFL may not be a "science," but (for the most part) it's not (or shouldn't be) abstract art either.

It may be a personal idiosyncrasy of mine, but when people are explaining things I'd like to understand them. I prefer explanations that don't waste words in the process of making themselves clear. I'm talking about "explaining" in a very restricted, academic sense. I could probably do an interpretation of Vygotsky's ideas on the interrelation between language and thought on the drums, and it might even be pretty good to listen to, but if you really want to know anything about Vygotsky, it would probably be a lot easier to check out his Wikipedia page. I only mention Vygotsky because today I had one of his ideas explained to me with such a clear example that I'll never forget it. Whether or not I eventually reject the idea is irrelevant. The only relevant point is that I understand the idea.

[Oh, the idea? Language mediates cognition. The example was a letter to Ann Landers which didn't need a reply because the writer solved the problem herself merely by writing about it. If you don't sometimes talk to yourself, maybe you should. Or start a blog...]

So anyway, we give our presentation tomorrow. I need to practice a bit more...


  1. There are many echoes in the idea that language mediates cognition - related to the observer affecting the experiment I think. You might want to look at this, to which I can also relate that idea:

    What all of these ideas have in common is that nothing takes place in some kind of (sterile,sovereign) place removed from its environment. Waves rule, particles drool.

    Not actually on drugs.

  2. Susan,
    Sorry about the lag in replying. That was an interesting link. I have similar philosophical suspicions, although they are sometimes troubling--it's a struggle working in free will and eliminating nihilism!