Have you ever attended a conference or had another learning experience that haunted you. By that, I mean it lingers, following you, in the shadows, rising in your thoughts at unexpected times, and surprising you with a, “Boo!” What haunts you is that you don’t know why. There’s a room with a closed door, and the answer’s in there. You approach the door, and you can hear people in the audience screaming, “Don’t open the door, stupid!”
This was the scene outside my hotel. There was a real Emerald City quality to the place.
At this point, I’ve not opened the door, though it occurs to me that I often find my conclusion when I sit down and write. It may have been a simple combination of the exotic. A mixture of tropical flora, chilly temperatures, steep and forbidding mountains next to the dozens of enormous freighters I watched moving intoVictoria Harbor during my walks between the conference site and my hotel — which was exotic by its own right.
It could have been the attendees, mostly educators from International schools from throughout Asia and even Indonesia. Teacher-adventurers is the best phrase I can come up with to describe these educators who have decided to live and work at the edges of their worlds.
Or was it the other speakers, such as Chris Smith, whom I’ve known for more than 10 years and whose career has paralleled mine in several ways. Yet he, an Englishman, has settled in northern Thailand. Or Stephen Heppell, who is strange in so many ways that simply draw you in. You want to ask, “Did his eyes just twinkle?” And you feel like he has just opened at your feet a sack of toys, playthings you’ve never seen before, ideas and suggestions that are so compelling that you feel as though you are a beginner teacher again.
Yes! Writing this is helping me to uncover the spook — that and the fact that conference organizer, Paul White forwarded a link to the student performance we all watched with wonder on the last day.
What haunts me is what learners can accomplish in an environment that is unfamiliar, through the tension that is caused when gravity is slightly off center, in a place that seems just a little dangerous in it unfamiliarity and exoticness.
Watch the video, recorded by Chris Smith, and ask yourself, “What if I, comfortable at home and in routine, had to up and follow this.” My spook was that I had to get up and follow these talented youngsters!