Question of the day.

In childhood, did you ever have extra-curricular instruction (for sports, a musical instrument/singing, or participate in any arts and crafts classes or organisations)? This may or may not be related with school.

My answer:

While at the school for the blind, we all had a lot of extra-curricular activities which weren’t always associated with our schooling, but more with the rehabilitation thing. Like, all of us had some mobility training which we simply called “spatial orientation”, which involved learning some routes, using techniques for walking with and without white cane, but also some other life skills not necessarily always closely related to mobility. Many people, including me, had so called corrective gymnastics, I had that mostly for my shortened Achilles tendons. All of us went swimming twice a week after school. Things like that were sort of basic there. I remember I really didn’t like going to the swimming pool, it always stressed me out for some reason, so I looked for any way of skipping that, which was easy since I seemed to have some skin reaction to the chlorine and my Mum didn’t want me to absorb too much chlorine because she read somewhere that people with hypothyroidism (which I had) shouldn’t get too much of it. I really love being in the water, so it’s not that I am afraid of it or something. I love being in the sea or river, I just still have that crazy aversion to swimming pools which I don’t really understand, I would just never go to a swimming pool voluntarily, unless an open one, like Zofijka has. But I hate the in-door swimming pools.

When at the nursery, all of us had horse riding, which I wrote about earlier, that I was so scared of and then started to love to bits, haha. I also ended up getting into the music school, which was a bit accidental. As I wrote even in the last question of the day post, I did a lot of singing there, also on stage. I was taking part in some sort of contest and I had a lot of rehearsals and preparations for that. I guess, being at the age of 5 or 6, I must have been sort of confused whether it was a temporary thing or if I was to have those rehearsals regularl even after the contest, and at some point I asked one of the staff out of curiosity if I’ll be still having that. She was puzzled and said that I’d better ask our… OMG how do you call it in English…? rhythmicity teacher…? People make up really weird subjects, even for nursery children lol. Anyway, she told me to ask her, because she was working at music school, so she would know, or would get in touch with that tutor who was preparing me for that contest earlier. So I did, And the rhythmicity teacher asked me which instrument I was learning to play with that lady. I was very confused, I was just singing. But after a while, not knowing what I should say, I said piano, because she played piano, so I thought maybe that was what the teacher asked me about. And she was like: “Oh, but she doesn’t teach piano…” and she told me that she will talk to the teacher who did teach piano and get her to work with me. And, although I hadn’t ever think about learning to play piano,a week afterwards I met my teacher, who was a lovely and cheerful young woman, with whom I loved to chat with, especially about the Parpills (the creatures I made up), but the whole piano learning thing was super strenuous. I found it really difficult, technically, to repeat more complex things that she asked me or showed me to do. Then after a few years, when I was in primary, that nice teacher had to go on maternity leave and I never worked with her again, instead, I was assigned an older lady, who was very sophisticated and serious, and super calm and had the patience of a saint, which was probably life-saving for us both. Most of the girls in my group at the boarding school were in the music school and quite a few were very passionate and serious about that so I sort of felt like I should too, and once I very carelessly shared one of my dreams with my Mum. Not my real big dreams, you know, just a little, funny daydream I once had that didn’t mean anything, because I’ve had daydreams about being a hundred and one things in my life, and it doesn’t immediately mean that’s what I would seriously like to do for my whole life. Dreams are fun because you can pop in and out of them when you want. My daydream that I shared with my Mum was influenced by a book I read. For a while I wanted to be like the main character in that book – a 30-something sophisticated, elegant mummy with a big family of six children living in a mansion, who was very artistic and liked to play piano for her family’s entertainment. –
I had to hear about that little dream of mine for the next three years until I finally couldn’t take it anymore, my extended family seriously thought I could play the piano, and I felt like an imposter, and I was just frustrated with it and with myself and I quit. The more that that year I had to get my corrective gymnastics hours increased because the creepy shadow of Grice-Green’s surgery was hanging over my feet and the last thing I felt like focusing on was freaking piano. ๐Ÿ˜€ Some time afterwards I quit the singing thing for good as well, for a mixture of reasons but I guess mostly because it wasn’t my thing any longer. I only sing in the shower now or for Misha’s entertainment who seems to like it for some reason. I later tried learning guitar at home during holidays with my aunt’s acquaintance, mostly to please my Mummy but also because I had a glimmer of hope it could get better this time. Piano felt like a very sophisticated instrument, but I’d heard from lots of people that guitar is easy, and knew people without much talent for music who learned to play some tunes by heart, so I thought if it’s so easy, and since I did have an ear for music, perhaps I could master it too. It didn’t work like that. After four months I was definitely getting it at the brain level pretty well,but couldn’t repeat any of the chords completely on my own properly without at least some instructions or assistance. I wasn’t too disappointed though, just came to the conclusion that being a listener is much more fit for me than being a creator of music. If we all only made our own music, no one would listen to it, I guess. I also had other classes as part of my musical education for a while, which lasted for too short to give me very much knowledge, but I appreciate that experience because I did get some knowledge or understanding of music that I would probably never get otherwise, so while I don’t know nearly as much as someone who completed music school, I also guess I have a bit more insight than an average person would. And later on I was taking part in music therapy which was extremely helpful and relaxing for my brain which was one big nervous wreck at the time haha.

When I left that school to try the integration school out, my Mum made me a surprise organising horse riding lessons for me, which was scary like hell at first for me, but as you know I discovered very soon how much I in fact love horse riding. During my second year there, at 4th grade, I somehow ended up in a theatre club. I really don’t remember how I got in there. I guess it must have been something like that everyone had to pick an after school activity or something? And my Polish teacher was running it so I guess I got in there thanks to her. I really didn’t like it here. Neither did Olek, who also took part in it, well I suppose he must have disliked it even more, I had at least some experience with such things so could grit my teeth and get on with it, but when you’re new to it and not into it… sucks. I’ve had people telling me that I have some acting skills, which at first made me snort out with laughter, but when even my Mum said that I started to think about this more seriously. I like to play pretend with Zofijka, I am good at mimicking accents, I guess, and that’s what people say, but it’s been mostly Polish people saying that to me about English accents so they might as well have no idea, the more that Polish people usually have nasty accents in English, even if they are fluent. And I like to mimic people and how they act too. The thing is, I have to be really chilled and comfortable to do that. Every time I took part in a play on stage, I was stiff as a stick. And while I have mostly very good memory, I don’t do well with absorbing stuff like learning a poem by heart, or a word list in another language in specific order, or lines for a play. I always struggled a bit with that. I remember standing on a stage for hours after school, which always made me dizzy because it was so high and I was like “What if I fall from these stairs?!”, ravenously hungry and stressed, and I know so was Olek. We were doing a nativity play that year, and I was Mary, and hated it with my every brain cell. When we were finally performing in front of the whole school and parents and all, the power was out and mics weren’t working, and we all had to yell our lines, which I remember clearly because I had a bit of a cold that day and my throat was aching so that wasn’t fun. ๐Ÿ˜€ And I remember having high-heel shoes (did Mary seriously go all the way to Bethlehem pregnant in high-heel shoes), which was a really bad idea because I felt even more unsteady and panicky. ๐Ÿ˜€ But the whole thing seems rather hilarious to me now.

That’s also where my saga of my math compensatory classes (is that how you call it?) started.

At some point during my education at that school, my Mum found a teacher for me, via some local newspaper, with whom I had Swedish, as I always wanted. I loved that to pieces!

I had to go back to the “blind” school in the end, so all my jolly horse riding and Swedish adventures took a backseat because I wasn’t able to take part in them as often anymore, and then they finally all completely disappeared leaving me in a lot of distress (especially the fact that I couldn’t have Swedish) that I managed to sort of suppress and not think about but any time something reminded me about Swedish language I was enormously frustrated.

Instead there was some project funded by EU at our school in which I was chosen to take part and learn English via Callan method, together with some of my groupmates. I guess all of us disliked it because it was really boring, and looking at it now, I really wonder where that decision came from and why they chose Callan method, because I guess it’s the most ridiculous language learning method on the Earth. I mean, it certainly must have been of use in the circumstances in which it was created – for soldiers, to quickly learn the language, I guess soldiers do not need to be incredibly fluent, but just say what they need to say and learn as much as possible as fast as possible. – It’s basically that you memorise loads of grammar rules and learn loads of artificial sentences from the textbooks, no flexibility or anything like that. ANd I don’t think it gave me anything special, was just a waste of our time, and waste of the precious funds of the EU. We really liked to skip those classes if that was possible for any of us, but they emphasised it very much that we shouldn’t because they were paid in advance, so I guess it’s a pity they weren’t a bit more useful.

Basically as you can see we were able to have lots of extra activities there so it’s possible there was something else that I don’t remember now.

When I got out of there I could finally breathe with relief and restart my Swedish and horse riding after my depression got more manageable (the horse riding I still have even though I’m not in school anymore, though I’m having a hiatus again). I also had extra English classes at home for a while, I felt like I needed them to be as well prepared for my English finals as I could, and I happened to get a really really chatty teacher so I really got to talk a lot with him in English, which I liked and which probably helped me to get that 100% result at oral English, not even because I learned that very much from him but because I gained more confidence in that and could speak even more freely. Oh and I also had my poor math tutor, who was courageously teaching me all the stuff we had at college plus helping me immensely with exam preparations. I liked her as a person, but those lessons with her I sometimes still get in my dreams – that I am sitting there and don’t know how to resolve some ridiculously weird equation or something and we both get more and more frustrated and hours are passing and I feel like punching and throwing everything around – really stupid topic for a dream isn’t it?

So that’s it from me, phew, quite a lot, as I can now see. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really appreciate it now that I can decide on it myself what I want to invest my time in, although some of those experiences were really interesting.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

7 thoughts on “Question of the day.”

  1. I did a lot of different extracurricular activities. I did piano lessons, sports when I was in elementary school, dance lessons, student council, debating, volunteering, and probably a few other things tossed in there as well.

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  2. Eurhythmy if your school/teacher was Steinerish/Waldorfish [and I think you went to a Catholic school later on – before or after the school for the blind/integration school].

    Also it has lots of music in it. I know about it because Iris Greep [Jacqueline du Pre’s Mum before her marriage to Derek du Pre – who was in the Gorals in 1938-39 for his wandervogel/gap year] did a Dalcroze course in eurythmy and it came through to the way she taught her daughters and her son.

    HILARY AND JACKIE is a good representation of that early experience – Anand Tucker did a good job directing it.

    I call it Expanded Core Curriculum. That interface and sometimes productive interference between therapy and education and habilitation.

    Love your approach to dreaming, Emilia, especially in your childhood and adolescence.

    Corrective gymnastics. Gymnastics was a part of my life in the 1980s too because I was a very active child and it was better for me than ball sports and it gave me vital connections including one in the early 2000s with a radical advocate.

    Swimming can be ill-advised for many for many reasons. Like small ear canals and if you are delicate and get lots of colds. Also if mean people bang your head and drown you. And mean people in general [I mean too the little pettiness and the intentional interpersonal betrayal].

    Theatre club is awesome! I will say I wish I had more theatre in my life and more drama. We did try in 2016 and again in 2017. I think in September/October I will jump and I will leap.

    Athletics was pretty big.

    Would love to know why Callan method is ridiculous. Of course one of my personal and professional enduring interests would be linguistics and language teaching on that basis.

    Did you guys also use Universal Grammar and Noam Chomsky and his mates?

    Callan – learning in adverse circumstances and from adversity.

    There is nothing which unites you in learning a language than learning with and from the enemy or enemies! Especially when you are somewhat competitive and you live in a high-pressure environment.

    Again – depending on the language and the circumstances.

    “ANd I donโ€™t think it gave me anything special, was just a waste of our time, and waste of the precious funds of the EU. We really liked to skip those classes if that was possible for any of us, but they emphasised it very much that we shouldnโ€™t because they were paid in advance, so I guess itโ€™s a pity they werenโ€™t a bit more useful.” (grin) (sigh)

    There are two ladies who do natural/aided language – their names are Catherine and Katharine – and I really like their GrammarTrainer – a guy called Andrew works 15 minutes – an hour.

    So when I was younger there was lots of activism and sport and wandering.

    And Mary going to Bethlehem in high heeled shoes. Her feet would have been so badly swollen eight or nine months pregnant [what if Jesus had been born pre-term?].

    “I am good at mimicking accents, I guess, and thatโ€™s what people say, but itโ€™s been mostly Polish people saying that to me about English accents so they might as well have no idea, the more that Polish people usually have nasty accents in English, even if they are fluent.”

    Dziekuje bardzo – which is my way of saying “I’m glad you said that!”

    And of course “I’m glad you said that” – to clarify would be “I am glad that a Pole has noticed this in terms of her own language learning and is able to think critically and reflectively”.

    And a nasty accent need not get in the way of communication – yes? “Not a matter of style – just a lesson in taste” – Sophie B. Hawkins.

    And linguistics gets so tied up in matters of style and tries to impose lessons in taste so my off the cuff may have been slightly angry.

    I think the difference is that the voidoships are much more regional in the way that some English counties and some constituent nations [I think in particular of Ireland and Scotland as well as Wales]. And a big factor again is travel and exposure].

    EG: Mazovia and Warmia and um, Silesia. [this is more the big region / Poland A and Poland B which all my geopolitical friends are talking about and have done since the European elections of 2019 – also things I learnt in the early 2000s].

    And yay for more open-air and open-water swimming!

    Love the 30-year-old pianist. That dream is not boring or stupid – even if people in your life would have it so. And it seems your mother recognised it affectionately and acknowledge it.

    My current extra-curriculars include juggling and boules and blogging and hard rubbish and recycling.

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  3. Ah, eurhythmia, thanks for the info. ๐Ÿ™‚ The school for the blind that I went to was Catholic, although I have no idea and never heard of any Steinerish/Waldorfish connections there.
    Haha, in my case they actually did advise swimming to me, especially with my feet, but I didn’t care much.
    We were finding the Callan method ridiculous because for us it felt like a very forced way of learning. You couldn’t be curious, ask questions, be creative, learn vocabulary outside of what was currently to work through in the book, well generally I don’t remember learning much vocabulary that was new and useful to me, it was mostly grammar rules. It always annoyed me that we had to answer the questions the same way every time, with exactly the same words, as if they expected us to memorise them. Perhaps it works for some people, who see a language in a different way, or perhaps it was badly taught for us, I just didn’t feel it and don’t feel like I’ve got any advantages out of it.
    If we did use universal grammar or any other methods, I wasn’t aware of it. I suppose not but they liked to keep it to themselves which methods they used and how they did things, both in education and rehabilitation.
    Yeah poor Mary, I hope she didn’t have to get through such things. ๐Ÿ˜€
    I love Polish people but when you’re an accent freak like I am, you just can’t not see that accent thing. And yes, of course accent doesn’t matter in fluency, it only matters for me and I am so petty. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Blogging is a fantastic extra-curricular activity. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Blogging so is, Emilia!

      Really appreciated your explanations of the Callan method and why it didn’t work for this group of students.

      And some people like to feel – the grammar rules are automatic now. And break [into] them.

      “As if they expected us to memorise them”. There’s a difference between remembering and memorising, isn’t there, Emilia?

      Probably entirely possible because many teachers run in similar circles like what you have said about the estoteric.

      Ah when students say they have no idea about the conscious and unconscious influences of and on their education.

      And isn’t there another memory system called Palmerism? And Coue tends to work that way with set affirmations of positivity and brain change [I was thinking about Conte/Comte].

      Closed system! Were they afraid other schools and districts would copy it really badly? Were they trying to protect their intellectual property? Maybe insecurity was involved?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It could be so. There is some silent, but very clear rivalry between those 6-7 schools for the blind that we have here. They even like to spread rumours about each other, so perhaps there are some insecurities. That’s one of the reason why I strongly feel that there either needs to be a much more inclusive education system, or we need more specialised schools. At least one per region, so that it doesn’t feel so niche, and also is easier for the students to cope with – they don’t have to drive across the country to school. – But oh well that’s just wishful thinking. ๐Ÿ˜€

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