It’s 2011 and I want to start telling some more stories! I’m a firm believer that the best teachers are those that tell stories in order to teach. (and research suggests this and also essential for great presentations).  I’ve collected my stories HERE on EFL Classroom 2.0 and hope some teachers will take a visit.

So to start off strong – I’m going to tell an old Arabic story. I thought of it today – during a conversation I was having with a former student. I can’t remember for sure where I first read it or heard it, but it might be from Thesiger’s Arabian Sands or perhaps Laurence’s first and overlooked book – A Tree for Poverty. In both cases – highly recommended literature! (I also have to take time to make a list this year of my fav. travel books – what you find online is dismal and uninformed – ah pop culture!, thinking the DaVinci code is a classic!).

This story speaks to teachers in many ways. To me, it suggests that as a teacher we are told many things but often it is best when the door closes – to do it your own way. Good teaching is always about authenticity and listening to your own voice, despite the calls of others (admin, society, teacher trainers, parents even!).

Long ago there was a hard working father. His teenage son complained that nobody looked up to him and he asked how he could get others to like him, respect him. The father replied, “Never listen to anyone else but your own heart, they don’t know what’s best at all!”.

The boy scoffed at his father’s words so his father suggested they go into town.

They took their donkey with them into town. As they walked along side the donkey, the boy overheard some old women laughing, saying, “Look at that horrible man. He let’s his son walk while the donkey does nothing.” The boy felt ashamed and suggested to his father that he ride. The father said, “Okay”.

As they went down the road, some men pointed at them and angrily said, “Young man, how can you ride on that donkey? Get off and let your old father ride. Shame on you!”.

So the boy jumped off and told his father to get on the donkey. The father started riding the donkey into town.

Further down the road, the boy heard some young women whispering and pointing, saying, “What a horrible father, look how he treats his son, letting him walk in the hot sun while he rides on the donkey!”.

The boy was ashamed and suggested they both ride on the donkey for the remainder of the journey. However, a little further down the road, a man ran out and started scolding them. He said, “What lazy men you are, both riding on that poor creature. Don’t you have any consideration for your animal?”.

The father and son jumped off the donkey. The father saying, “You see?”, “You must do what you think is best and not what others would like you to do!”.