55 – the sum of the numbers 1-10 (and a palindrome hehehehe)
To know harmony is to know what’s eternal. How those words will chime for those of us who have bemoaned the apparent cycle of fads and trends that our trade seems to be governed by! Is grammar in or out? Do we teach reading aloud or reading quietly? Should we do dictations or not? Is grammar translation a good thing or a bad thing? Ever practical, we defined a new way forward: principled eclecticism – in other words, anything goes. Lao advises us to look beyond fads and focus on what is always there. What is always there? The fact that language is used for communication and that people tend to learn language without much else more than a desire to be heard. That is the eternal fact of language learning. That should underpin what we do. It’s a very enlightening concept. Language is not about exercises and pre-listening tasks. In fact, these things would seem to be the antithesis of language learning. Lao warns us that What is contrary to tao will not last long. Of course, we knew this already – how many of us have forgotten the languages we were taught at school [NB not the languages we learned at school]? Babies provide good models for budding taoists to follow: despite knowing sweet fanny adams about the world or anything, he says, babies are up for it [those of you who are familiar with his precise analogies will have to forgive the pun]. Be ready to learn and you will learn. Be ready to teach and you will teach. Being ready to teach is the same as being ready to learn. It requires an open and empty mind.