My last post on Why Teachers are No Longer Revered as Sacred generated a couple of comments that got me thinking. In particular, I thought about my mother, who was an ESL Literacy Tutor back when I was little. I was 8 or 9 when learners started coming over to the house in the evenings for their lessons. (Back in those days, there were no issues with learners coming over to the tutor’s home.) Over the years, she had a number of different learners. One by one, they’d come through the door and she’d put the kettle on, as they got settled for their lesson.
The “learning sessions” were partly about reading and writing, partly about using English, partly discussions about Canadian culture vs. the learner’s culture, partly about her listening to them talk about how much they missed their loved ones back home. For a number of years at Christmas, we’d invite the learners to our home to share Christmas Day dinner with us. For some, it was the first time they’d experienced Christmas; for others it meant not being alone at a special time of year when they were feeling particularly homesick.
I never really thought much about all the hours my Mum worked as an ESL literacy tutor. Decades later, I now work in languages and literacy. I can’t help but think that somehow, those early experiences were imprinted on my brain and in my heart. My dear old Mum, who passed away over a decade ago now, who had a grade 10 education until she went back to school in her 40s to get her GED, inspired me early on to work in this field. Thanks, Mum, for the inspiration.
Who inspired you as a child to work in the field of languages and literacy?
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.