2nd Junior High School of Kalymnos, Dodecanese, Greece – The colourful sense of freedom – When teaching acquires a freer and less transactional character.

color-freedom8Recently, as I was surfing the internet, I stumbled across these lines from the pages of a fashion blog in the guardian:

How odd that I should remember a smell without actually smelling it. Then again, is there anything more evocative of time and place than a perfume? I bet Daisy Buchanan wasn’t so much moved to tears by the sight of Gatsby’s “beautiful shirts” as by the memories stirred by the scent of them – and him.

For me, the very mention of Great Gatsby took me back to my university days and the beginning of my fascination with literature. It all came back to me; the characters, mere strangers at the beginning of each novel, not delivering that great an impression initially –then the curiosity as to their sayings, growing ever more with regard to their actual doings and the ensuing enrapture as they unfolded, page after page, into fully developed personalities, almost coming out alive.

color-freedom5               Strange as it may seem, it was literature in fact that led me to becocolor-freedom4me an English teacher. It was the “perfume” of a second language that could acquire its scents not only through fiction as I later came to realize but through music, theatre, cinema, even fashion as well. This is probably why my accidental encounter with forgotten literary heroes of mine renewed my determination to instill this enchantment with the real, authentic language, try at least, in my students too.

To this purpose, I started reaffirming my grip on the figurative level of English language. Its idioms, figure of speech and word puns offer numerous opportunities to anyone who ventures to explore it after all. More often than not, we forget that for a subject to be interesting, we have to let it “breathe”, unplug it from the unnecessary respirator machine. It is only when a student can watch an English speaking movie, read or even recite a poem, listen to a song he/she likes and speak everyday and not bookish English that he /she can for example appreciate the language in its full spectrum.

color-freedom2               The language unravels itself slowly yet magically then revealing its many colours and its even more hues. It as if you dive into what you think are the icy cold blue waters of your island only to find yourself wrapped up in its actual clear, greenish warmth. The layers of independence this venture can give to acolor-bed1 student can only be shown through their actual words, response to the topic: “When do you feel most free?”.

               I feel good when I am on my bed listening to my favourite kind of music. I particularly like Green Day, they are my favourite band, Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Hoobastank and Linkin Park. Then I feel almost like I ‘m flying.

Spyros – 3rd grade – advanced level

For me, actual Freedom is acting and thinking the way I like without being forced to do something I don’t want to do. This actually happens when I run – alone. Combined with listening to music in my MP3s , running makes me forget my past or future problems and encourages me to feel I can succeed any goal and dream I may have .

George – 3rd grade – advanced level

color-freedom9                      Being a teenager has helped me to have more freedom and to make decisions without asking my parents in some issues. It is actually not as bad as many believe.                                                Savvina – 3rd grade – advanced level

As can be gathered, freedom is not a idea, principle that can be measured or valued against objective criteria. The more one tries to define it, experience it, the more he/she understands that this is close to something unattainable. This does not imply however that we, teachers coming into contact with thinking, living creatures should not attempt to enhance our students’ sense of freedom. Whether this derives from a blossoming confidence in their abilities, a lack or limitation of stress – worries or even a growing awareness of the world around them in all its colours, it is surely our obligation to stand by their side and help them achieve their dreams, goals and hopes.

Evi Birba, Teacher of English in our school

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