These days that I am spending time running a little French workshop for my two nephews and their friend, Seán, have reminded me of what teaching class used to be like: the frustrations, the pleasures, the time spent preparing, the misunderstandings, and, oh the joy, when you realise that progress is being made. These guys are good to work with. They are motivated and eager to make this work for them. Seán has ambitions of becoming a primary school teacher so I’m fine-tuning what we’re doing to play to his interests. We watched a YouTube trailer on the French documentary movie, Etre et avoir, and I urged him to rent it out at the local Chartbusters here in Galway.
My two nephews are pragmatic. They what they need to do to get the grade in the Leaving Certificate. It seems that there is a sharp divide between teachers who teach for the exam and those who communicate the heart of their subject. The latter are the ones who really educate, I think. One of my nephews has had a really exciting economics teacher who used books like Jeff Sach’s The End of Poverty to get across key theoretical ideas. My nephew is now majoring in economics in college. It is what happens when a fire is lit.