Stuff my students said #1

do you remember tap water?

Do you remember tap water? by malla_mi on Flickr

To be brutally honest, it’s not often that I hear anything profound, thoughtful or deep from my students. They are, after all, teenagers more interested in playing Sudden Attack than pondering the mysteries of the universe. Therefore when I do hear something that goes beyond the trite, and shows some depth not only of thought but also of langauge, it tends to affect me greatly.

This happened to me on Wednesday, teaching a lesson on The Show by Lenka. The activation phase or the lesson involved a choice of questions to answer relating to the themes of the song. One of the questions was “Do you ever feel like your life is a film or drama series?” to which my middle school grade 2 student replied:

“No. I think we live in an unspecial world. Life is like running water.”

The strange thing is that this was produced as I have written it here. I was really struck by the poetic nature of it, and the fact that “running water” crops of in a 13 year old’s vocabulary.  It sounds like it should be from a kung-fu movie, so I checked with some teachers whether it was a Korean saying. It wasn’t.

So what does it mean? I questioned her a little, and managed to elicit that the unspecial world referred to war and terrorism, but could get no further as to how life was like running water. Did she mean that she was sitting by a stream, watching life ebb by? Did she mean that she was running water, slipping ceaselessly downhill through life? I have no idea, and I think if I did it would rather spoil the effect. As it is, it’s still echoing around my mind a week later.

If you have any ideas about what she meant, please do leave a comment.



2 responses to “Stuff my students said #1

  1. The language children produce could be influenced by friends, movies, comics, etc. It is an interesting analogy that you’ve mentioned that a student produced. Did you teach; “Go with the flow”, “Easy come, easy go”, etc? I think the student was referring to fate and determinism whereby our life is pre-determined. But I could be wrong. Very interesting.

  2. Hi Martin,

    Thanks very much for commenting.

    It’s funny that you should mention comics, as this girl is a really great artist and often draws cartoons to accompany dialogues or pieces of writing that we do, so I am sure that she does do a lot of reading of comics.

    As far as I know phrases like “Go with the flow” have never come up in my class. However, I am not their only English teacher so it could have been encountered elsewhere. It is remarkably prescient though (on your part and hers) as the message of the song we were about to listen to could be summed up as “Go with the flow”.


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