A Shock to the System

November 30, 2011 § 6 Comments

“Every man can transform the world
from one of monotony and drabness
to one of excitement and adventure.”
Irvine Wallace

Transform your world now!

The gas man came to call this morning. The water heater kept cutting out, the radiators would be nice and hot for a while, then you’d start thinking it’s a bit cold in here, touch the radiator and find it stone cold.

He tested this, fiddled with that, sucked his teeth and informed me what a botch job the cowboy before had made. Through a deliberate set of procedures though, he determined the cause and replaced the right part. My gloveless hands are testament to his success.

If only learning were that easy. We’re not machines, things go in one ear and out the other, and we have to do things again and again. We learn to add s to make plurals, only to start putting ‘s when we learn about possessives.

And on Monday, on a trip up to Halifax in the lovely Pennine Hills in the north of England, where I spent a fabulous day teaching and demonstrating, at one point I had to pull over to let an ambulance pass. The bright blue lights flashing in my mirror and the cacophony of wails and whoops and screeches are designed to catch attention. The good old days of nee nah nee nah are long gone. The trouble is, monotony is boring. We don’t even notice it after a while. We need a greater shock to the system.

End the monotony here!

This is one of the reasons that the ESOL learners at Calderdale College loved the activities we did with Language Garden so much. Seeing words bend and branch before their eyes, the text takes on a personality of its own almost. They didn’t know what was going to happen next, what was suddenly going to sprout out from the blank white screen, the visual equivalent of an ambulance siren.

NLP says you learn by watching experts. See if it’s true!

And when I invited them to put the words back in in Puzzle, they were up out of their seats like they were burning their backsides on a scorching radiator. Like, I’m pleased to say, I can now do.

“The true art of memory
is the art of attention.”
Samuel Johnson

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§ 6 Responses to A Shock to the System

  • Oh – if only learning were that easy! On the other hand, if it were, life would be radically different.
    Lucky we have innovators like you to keep shocking the system!

    • David Warr says:

      Hello Naomi, lovely to see you here, and your kind words mean much to me. Thank you.
      All to often, I’m afraid, when I learn new words in a foreign language, they do go in one ear and out the other! (And the boiler seems to have broken down again! Nothing is as it should be.)
      David

  • sonia says:

    life is able to surprise us and shock us…:) un besito, cariño. he,he

  • Sorry to hear about the boiler. I suppose we also learn to take things for granted.

    Still, lucky Calderdalites – I’ve never seen you do a session.

  • Torn Halves says:

    I clicked the link marked “end the monotony” and got a message that I needed to download Microsoft Silverlight. What’s the subtext here? I can transform the world, but only if I have the right Bill Gates software? So I went to the Language Garden homepage. That only works if you have Adobe Flash. Isn’t that a problem for iPad and Mac users? I’m not one of them, but I have heard that Apple isn’t supporting Flash now.

    Still, congratulations on the business idea. I get the impression that you have a very attractive product. I hope business is going well. I wish you all the best.

    • David Warr says:

      I’m just a simple chap who likes bendy words. But what a web they weave. I find myself embroiled in a technology war. I can hold my own in a debate about the merits of Silverlight and Flash and html5. You don’t need to tell me about ipads and Androids. Necessity has been the mother of my learning. I’m up to my neck in the quicksand of progress, and all I want to do is bend words.

      Thank you sincerely for your kind words. They mean a lot coming from you. I greatly appreciate your thoughts on your own blog, and here too.

      Please follow through with the Silverlight download. I hope you will find it worth it. It should only take a minute to install. It’s a plug in, like Flash, and once html5 is stable, we’ll shift across to that. Once you’ve got it, you should see a blank white screen with coloured boxes at the top. Click anywhere on the screen and start typing. The controls appear for you to bend and shape the word.
      It’s still beta, techno-speak for it doesn’t work very well yet.

      I’ve stopped sinking, and am pulling with all my might on the vines overhead.

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