web analytics

Notes on Moscow City Day

I’ve spent an entire day in Moscow city center. I’m sitting in Nikitsky Boulevard, blogging and noticing people walking past. Tomorrow is expected to be overcast but today there were many sunny spells. It was very warm, and is only just beginning to get chilly as the sunset approaches.

Although there are no major celebrations this year due to the pandemic, people went to the city centre to enjoy the good weather and some outdoor events. I mentioned the Soviet photography exhibition, which starts a dozen of meters away from my bench. Another set of events, Flower Jam, apparently lasts until October: there are different flowery displays scattered across the city, starting with Apothecary Garden.

People do wear masks in shops, museums, and on the public transport. Yet in the streets one only remembers about the coronavirus when a mask hanging under someone’s chin pops in the view.

Overall, the weather is almost spring-like, and it feels like there has never been any pandemic…

My Julia Lambert Moment

At the end of Maugham’s novel Theatre Julia Lambert dines on steak and chips. She savours life and art and reflects on her role as an artist.

I love the novel and Julia’s character. Now and again I also wish I could be “normal”; then I remember how many people want to have at least one ability to do something creative, and I withdraw to “my room”.

But every time I want to reflect on something, to assess my progress, to ponder things, and especially to practice gratitude and feel proud and happy for myself —

I go to my local cafe and buy myself some chips. If the weather is good, I go outside, perhaps to the pond; if not, I stay in the cafe, observing people and feeling myself on top of the world.

Or, instead of chips I buy some ice cream. Today I had both, but I only took a photo of the magnificent, glorious maple tree at my local park.

And what do you do on such occasions?

A Room of One’s Own

My room is not quite what you see in the photo, although, as I’m writing this post in bed, I’m lying next to tall bookcases. But it is definitely a dream: to have a study and a library, with an impressive desk, a comfortable armchair, and a windowsill-turned-bed where I could have a nook and a nap.

The time I spent away from my blog was rather productive. I won a translation contest, finished another book, wrote content for several sites, contributed articles on education, translated a couple of books, and still managed to get some sleep! Sadly, my oldest dog died at the beginning of September.

I also travelled to New Jerusalem monastery not far from Moscow, and I’ve got other trips planned. I plan to share photos of them soon.

I also found out that some people really care when we disappear from the view. Given the situation with the pandemic, this is understandable. So I am grateful to everyone who inquired about my whereabouts. I am, as the photo suggests, at home, doing rather well.

On Becoming a Teacher

Autumn in Moscow

The school year is about to start. In Moscow, several schools located near the Grand Mosque will be closed this Friday, September 1st, because of a Muslim festival. As for me, I can’t wait to see my English and French students again. There’s so much to do this year!

I qualified as an historian and a History teacher 15 years ago, upon graduating from the MSU. Some of my unimates immediately went on to teach, and a few have shown spectacular results as tutors. My English friend Ian who I worked with at the BBC in Manchester asked me once if I thought about teaching. He was sure I would make a great teacher. I disagreed. At the time I was all about Journalism and Literature, but that wasn’t the reason why I refuted the idea then. I was convinced that my task as a teacher had to go beyond explaining the theory and giving a bit of practice. I didn’t feel I was ready to share the lessons of life or profession.

When I started teaching in 2013 (and at first I did teach History – in English!) it was a completely different thing. I work privately, both with small groups and individual students, which allows to provide attention to every single person. You see, it was never enough for me to just share my erudition. I have always thought of a teacher as a role model, and by 2013 I had felt ready to serve as one. Today it’s hugely pleasing to hear the students want to be like me, to know the languages like me, etc. However, this also increases my responsibility, and we thus depend on each other. We grow together. I suppose, if anyone manages to forge this kind of relationship with their students, he or she creates endless opportunities for both professional and personal growth.

With each passing year, though, the students become older, and eventually they leave. I have got a few school graduates this year, so I really hope I will be able to teach them something valuable (that is, apart from English!). It will be sad to see them go, but this is life. We have to let go of something to have the new doors open.

Ralph W. Emerson said that a teacher is someone who is capable of making difficult things easy. While I entirely agree with him, this isn’t about an actual subject of teaching. Students, both young and old, will always ask questions about life; or perhaps a question about learning will be, in fact, a life question. Today I know that I wasn’t ready to teach in 2006 because I hadn’t yet figured out how to make complex things in life easy. Now I do; that’s why I teach.

error: Sorry, no copying !!