Do you have a job or a mission?

Do you have a job or a mission?

Level: mid-intermediate and advanced

Celeste Headlee, a trained opera singer turned radio show host, has some rather interest insight to share about the difference between a job and a mission. She also has a lot to say about how we get stuck focusing on our education and job expectations and miss the larger picture. But if you think she gives the same old spiel about finding your passion, being brave and embracing your true calling, you would be wrong. She knows we all have mortgages, rent, food, and stuff to pay for. And she also knows that finding your passion is complicated, changing, and doesn’t always match the needs of the market. Thankfully, she is not going to tell you to quit your job or sit at the top of a mountain to meditate.

This is the third post on this series on jobs and careers. So far we have gone through some basic vocabulary and explored what jobs are out there and then saw some fun ways to go about choosing. In this post, we will take a more analytical approach and explore the skills connected to jobs. We are going to exercise our mental flexibility and examine the components of various jobs or fields and see how they can apply to other jobs and fields.

Pre discussion

  • What do you think is the difference between a job and a mission?
  • How many job-related skills can you name? (e.g. teacher: public speaking, content design, presentation design, audience analysis, etc.)

The Video: TED Don’t find a job, find a mission

Discussion questions

  • Do a Mind Map or recap of all the main points of the talk (see our list)
  • What do you do? What are the skills involved in your job?
  • Do you like your job? What do you like and don’t like?
  • What things do you look for when looking for work?
  • If you were to do something completely different, what would it be?
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Profession: super hero

If you could do a job a week, which would they be?

If you could do a job a week, which would they be?

Level: beginner, intermediate and advance

Ever feel like you want to re-invent yourself? Like even though you are an English teacher, you could have also been a baker, or a computer programmer.

In the spirit of practicality, we usually chose one job, study for it and then go do it. But in fact, very few people work in the field they study in and even fewer people are truly happy doing what they do.

That’s why I love this video by Sean Aiken. He finds the question of finding a profession so limiting and stressful, that instead of sitting in the dark and brooding about it, he challenged himself to a different job a week. 52 weeks 52 jobs.

In this post, I am referencing the trailer to the film as a discussion launch pad.

Pre Discussion

  • Mind Map all the different jobs and fields you know
  • If you could choose 5 jobs instead of just one, what would they be?

The Video: On Week Job Trailer

Discussion

  • What is Aiken’s response to finding his passion?
  • What do you think it will led Aiken? What job do you see him doing?
  • Why is he doing this video?
  • Which jobs would you do if you could do a job a week?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy?
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What did or do you want to be when you grow up?

What did or do you want to be when you grow up?

Level: beginner and intermediate

If you are like me, that question makes you cringe. Why? Because I have wanted to be so many things. Narrowing it down was a stressful process filled with doubt–even today.

Of course it’s normal to think about it. It’s also normal to look at your children and try to see where their strengths are. Are they mathematical or artistic? Are they builders or sports enthusiasts. The answer is probably complex.

Yet to be able to pay for food and rent and get around, most of us need to narrow something down. Ideally it is work that we like and provides us with the kind of lifestyle that we like. But statistically speaking, it’s unlikely.

This is the first of three posts on this topic. In this post, I am featuring a wordless animated short by Jasmin Lai entitled When I Grow Up. It is a great launching pad to uncover all the job related vocabulary and perhaps begin the discussion of the stresses associated with choosing a job.

Pre Discussion

  • How many jobs can you name? Do a Mind Map.
  • What did you want to be when you were growing up?
  • Did that happen? Why or why not?

The video: When I Grow UP by Jasmin Lai

Discussion Questions

  • Why do she compare her clothes to the other people taking the bus?
  • Try to name as many professions as you can.
  • How do you think the main character is feeling?
  • What do you have to think of when choosing a profession? (e.g. education, talent, work conditions, etc.)

In the next post, I will feature a trailer of Sean Aiken’s film One Week Job where instead of thinking about his passion, Aiken just goes out and tries a bunch of jobs.

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Are your clothes environmentally friendly?

Are your clothes environmentally friendly? Do you even know. I didn’t. Manufacturing clothes is a complex industry that involves chemicals, non-ethical labour (child labour), shipping, and very high carbon emissions (5% over the overall carbon emission every year).

Clothes define us. Make us feel pretty or handsome, help us feel confident. I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to feel good in a job interview when you are wearing and old suit. But

Still, I know that my love of clothes is not the best for the planet. So I made one of my environmental objectives to buy more second hand clothes. In this PBS YouTube show Hot Mess they present other ways to help reduce our environmental foot print with different ways of choosing and buying clothes.

Teachers note: The presenter speaks fast. But you can reduce the speed to 0.75 and still get a natural flow. You can also add the close captions. If the rate and vocabulary is a bit frustrating for your students, encourage them to use their meta-knowledge to achieve comprehension (images, body language, guessing from context). The faster they get over what they don’t understand, the better they will feel when faced with native speakers in real life.

Pre discussion

  • Do you like to shop for clothes?
  • Do you ever buy second hand clothes?
  • What do you do with the clothes you don’t wear anymore?

Some concepts to explore before the video:

  • clothing as a status symbol
  • impact on the planet
  • textiles, garments
  • releasing carbon dioxide, green house gas emission
  • climate friendly
  • fossil fuel
  • sustainable
  • ethical labour
  • environmentally friendly shipping

The Video: PBS Hot Mess How To Make Clothes Less Terrible for the Planet

Discussion Questions

  • Stop the video 2 or 3 times and do a Mind Map of all the key concepts.
  • Why are clothes so important to us?
  • What are some of the impacts of polyester, rayonne, leather, and cotton?
  • What are some of the environmentally friendly things we can do to reduce the impact of buying clothes?
  • After watching this video, what could you change in your buying habits that could improve the impact of the clothing industries’ impact on the environment?
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Let me know how it goes…

Can my body language affect my mood?

Can my body language affect my mood? Your body language may not only affect how people perceive you, but it may also have an impact on your brain chemistry. Watch Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk (I suggest you break it down into smaller parts and do short Tell Backs) to find out just how profound the way we carry ourselves changes our outlook.

Teachers note: 

Cuddy speaks fast, but the vocabulary is relatively repetitive and she uses a lot of non-visuals. I would encourage you to preface this video with a bit about the Whole Language Approach. Tell them that they don’t have to understand everything. Review some of the meta-tools they have to achieve comprehension: non-verbal language, guessing from context. It may be frustrating for adults not to understand everything, but I feel it is important to expose them to first language material to prepare them for real life conversations with native speakers. Thus the more they get used to (by that I mean get used to not understanding everything) quick talking native speakers the more they will likely take their English out and use it.

Also you can add subtitles and slow the video down a bit with these features:

Pre discussion

  • Some vocabulary:
    • posture
    • body language
    • non verbal behaviour
    • power dynamics
    • power and dominance
    • assertive
    • optimistic
    • hormone
    • fake it t’ill you make it
  • What kind of body language makes a good impression?¬†
  • How important do you think body language is in communication

*You could cut the video at about 14:00 where Cuddy describes the study that supports her findings. Unless you find that interesting (which it is) it might be a little detached from the general point.

The Video: TED Amy Cudy Your body language may shape who you are

 

What is the most important element that Cuddy is highlighting?

Why is it important to be “body aware”?

What will happen if you change your body language the way Cuddy suggests?

What can you conclude about the impacts of posture on our outlook on life?

For more on this topic see Body Language Mistakes

 

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Would you rather text than talk?

Would you rather text or email than talk?

It’s just so easy. I don’t have to interrupt anyone, I can write while I’m in the moment, I don’t have to hold anything in my memory, or remember to ask what might have happened after a doctor’s visit or some sort of major life event, I don’t even have wait my turn to talk. When the thought appears, I can just shoot a message off and my counter part can react when it is convenient for them. In some case, with my more talkative friends (and family members) a digital message is the only way I can get a word in edgewise.

Plus, I can re-read, check my tone or make sure I didn’t word anything in an insensitive way. I can edit. Digital communication allows me to put forth my best self. Great stuff…right?

Sherry Turkle is not so sure. Her TED talk Connected but Alone? takes a good hard look at what digital communication may be doing to us. We have all heard that technology may be making us more isolated, so beyond this statement, just how it is doing that? Turkle gets right under the hood of our communication habits and puts forth some thought provoking concepts that definitely gave me pause.

This lesson is definitely for more advanced students. I did this with a mixed class of high level and lower level students and the lower level were a bit lost. However, I still recommend using first language material as much as you can to get their ears and minds used to native speaking. Once they get over focusing on what they don’t understand and focus on what they do, they will increase their ability to get into the English speaking community.

Pre discussion

  • Let’s hypothesize…Why do you think Turkle thinks texting and emailing is making us more isolated?
  • Make a pros and cons list for digital communication
  • What is the difference between isolation and solitude?
  • What is the difference between friendship and companionship?
You can change the play back speed
And add subtitles

The Video: TED Sherry Turkle: Connected but Alone?

There is a ton of stuff to talk about here. And rather than try to Tell Back everything Turkle says (although you are free to do that), I would jump right into the discussion with some of the following key ideas:

  • “We want to customize our lives and control where we put our attention”
  • “We are getting used to being alone…together”
  • “We are compromising companionship for friendship”
  • “We have an illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship”
  • “We can’t get enough of each other, at a distance, in amounts we can control”
  • “We use technology to manage our relationships in ways we can comfortably control”
  • Technology is satisfying 3 basic fantasies:
    • We can put our attention where we want it to be
    • We will always be hear
    • We will never be alone
  • “Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved”
  • “I share therefore I am”
  • “Connection is creating isolation”
  • “We need to cultivate the capacity for solitude”
  • “We need to build a self-aware relationship with technology”

And I could go on and on pulling quotes from this video. Turkle is articulate, astute and a fantastic social analyst.

I am ready to admit that I am getting caught in the fray of convenience, but short of stopping (which is not going to happen) Turkle has helped me see where I might be more self-aware.

I hope you enjoy talking about this as much as me and my students.

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Are you protected from identity theft?

Are you protected from identity theft? It’s a scary thought really because my own personal answer is: I don’t know. I change my passwords regularly, I back up my computer, I don’t open any emails that ask me to give my personal information, and I never, repeat never, give my password to anyone. But is that enough?

Pre discussion

  • Have you or someone you know had problems with having your identity compromised?
  • What do you do to protect your identity?

The Video: Pattie Lovett-Reid: Tips For Preventing Identity Theft


Discussion

  • According to Lovett-Reid, when is your personal information most vulnerable?
  • What are some of her tips?
  • What are some of the things we should be aware of?
  • What are some of the first things you should do if you think your identity is compromised?

I don’t mean to scare anyone, but the more we talk about it, the better prepared we can be.

 

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Would you like to visit Mars?

Would you like to visit Mars? At one time this would have been a question to engage in hypothetical thinking, but now, it could be a real possibility. According to the Washington Post, NASA expects that trips to Mars may be possible in the next 20 to 25 years. In fact, they have launched an exciting competition calling companies, universities and anybody to build models of habitats for Mars.

And if you were to go, what would you bring? Some baggies to collect Mars sand? A good pair of shoes? Camera (of course)? It is an interesting thought to play with. Thus in this post I am referencing the Washington Post article Where to stay on Mars? Robots could create living quarters before humans arrive. The article is featured in the Kids Post, so the vocabulary is relatively simple. And the subject matter may spark some interesting discussion about basic needs, isolation, and exploration.

Pre discussion

  • Would you like to go to Mars? Why?
  • What do you think it will be like? Dry, hot, cold, lonely, weird, exciting?

The article: Washington Post Where to stay on Mars?

Questions

  • To get the gist of the article, do a series of Tell Backs¬†for each section
  • What are some of the things that have to be planned in order to make this possible (food, habitat, etc…)?
  • ¬†What is the habitat competition all about?
  • What kind of entertainment would you bring if you were to stay a year?
  • What would you put in your suitcase?
  • How do you think visiting Mars will change life on Earth?

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Have a good trip!

 

When you speak, do people listen?

When you speak, do you think people listen to you? Do you think they understand–that they hear you? Ever watch a speech by former President Barak Obama? I just can’t stop listening. However, when my husband gives me the run down of the daily news, most times I totally tune out.

Why is that? According to Julian Treasure, there are many different aspects to a successful speaker ranging from tone of voice to subject matter. His TED talk presents some of the communication approaches that shut people down and those that open people up.

It is a talk that explores both the behavioural and mechanical aspects of speaking that I find rather interesting. Perhaps you and your students will too.

Pre discussion

  • Name some of the people you love to listen to
  • Why do you like them?
  • Name some people you tend to tune out of.

The Video: TED Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

  • What are some of the behaviours or approaches that make listeners tune out?
  • What are some of the tools in Treasure’s tool box?
  • Do a little analysis of yourself. Which behaviours do you have that may put your listeners off?
  • Do you use/have some of Treasure’s tools already?
  • What could you adopt that may enhance your speaking without making yourself seem unnatural?
  • Do you have any anecdotes of good and bad speakers (e.g. teachers, parents, bosses, etc…)

Legends Only

What makes good art?

What makes good art? If you have a few art lovers in your class, I think they will enjoy this lesson.

Does an artist have to suffer to make good art? Is it the amount of time one spends on the piece?¬† The complexity, the skill of the artist, the message, the feeling it creates…what?

I am always fascinated when I watch my children draw or make crafts. They dive in with their whole being–fearless. They never doubt their ability to produce or that the result will be great.¬† On the other hand, I am not submitting every piece to the Smithsonian…

So between the fearless child, to the tortured soul, what makes a piece of art great? In this PBS series the Art Assignment, they explore many of the stereotypes we attach to the “true” artist and they challenge some of the values we attach to quality. But better still, they talk about how, regardless of the process, art can make us feel less alone in the complex journey of being human.

Pre discussion

  • Do you go to museums or buy books to look at art?
  • What kind of art do you like?
  • What are some artist you know

The Video: PBS The Truth of the Tortured Artist

If you find this video a little fast or vocabulary dense, don’t forget that you can add CC (close captions) to help comprehension and you can slow the video down in the YouTube settings

Discussion

  • I would cut the video into parts and do Tell Backs on each. I would take notes on key vocabulary.
    • Part 1 from 0 to 1:07
    • Part 2 from 1:07 to 2:10
    • Part 3 from 2:10 to 3:45
    • Part 4 from 3:45 to 4:30 (on Picasso)
    • Part 5 from 4:30 to 4:45 (on Frida Kahlo)
    • Part 6 from 4:45 to 6:45 (on art as an outlet for pain)
    • Part 7 from 6:45 to end (what are some of the purposes of art?)
  • Do you think an artist has to anguish over a piece for it to be good. Or is it more a question of skill and craft (in the other words being very good at what they do)?
  • What are some of the states of mind art can come from?
  • If I could grant you all the skills you need to be an artist, why would you make art?

Let me know how it goes…

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