Good Teaching

Plato from 

What is good teaching?


Good teaching – oh the word “good” just doesn’t mean anything, now does it – effective teaching is….And what about “effective”? How is THAT defined?


George Mitchell challenged me, pushed me, and he did so not-too-gently. He told me I could be a different writer and was relentless in showing me how. But so was I, relentless in my desire to at first please, but then later, just to explore and experiment. His authority was one that I felt safe deferring to. Religion, literature, history, psychology all slowly merged into a two-year journey of both the world and my place in it, with Mr. Mitchell as my guide. At a towering 6 feet so many inches, his balding pate and baritone bravado commanded the classroom. It was a thrill just to be there. Continue reading

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Making Meaning Matter

//, click me to view original source.

The wider intellectual community comes increasingly to ignore our [psychology] journals, which seem to outsiders principally to contain intellectually unsituated little studies, each a response to a handful of like little studies. Inside psychology, there is a worried restlessness about the state of our discipline, and the beginning of a new search for means of reformulating it. In spite of the prevailing ethos of “neat little studies,” and of what Gordon Allport once called methodolatry, the great psychological questions are being raised once again — questions about the nature of mind and its processes, questions about how we construct our meanings and our realities, questions about the shaping of mind by history and culture.” (Acts of Meaning, xi) Continue reading

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A Story Worth Preserving

“But you know your mother really wanted you,” said Connie, seemingly hurt by what I was saying. I was standing in her living room, emphatically yelling and complaining about my parents, listing a litany of hurts that to my 18 year old mind were cruel and harsh wrongdoings. “And another thing,” I would continue. So much anger, so much that I needed to get out of my head, only words and emotion would do.

I thought about what Connie had said, it hadn’t registered at first, my mind a rushing locomotive racing full speed ahead, unable to stop for anything, but – “Your mother really wanted you.” Connie sat on the petite pink sofa, her habitual evening cocktail in hand, Bam-Bam by her side watching me. Her words were only slightly slurred, but I knew she was on her way to that special place. It was autumn, and it was night. A storm was coming, a cold front perhaps. The leaves did not fall to the ground from their branches, they were ripped from them. The lights were on in the kitchen, the television was chatting away. I can see the scene as if I’m sitting in an audience, eyes upon the stage. There’s a pleading look on my face as if to say “See what I mean? You do understand what I’m telling you, don’t you?” But it was Connie who really owned that sentiment, now squeezed into a bullet and shot directly at me in the form of “But you know your mother really wanted you.”

I stopped talking and looked at her, the television the only sound now. Headlights from outside entered the far window of the living room – someone was parking a car, someone had arrived home no doubt eager to enter his home and take refuge from the impending storm outside.

to be continued…

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but i AM a writer

“but i AM a writer” – Marlen attempts to define what a “writer” is and finds that perhaps he might just be one.

“A writer is a person who creates novels – a writer is a storyteller,” or so I’ve always thought. Of course I understood that there were other kinds of writers – journalists, reporters and documentarians, biographers and playwrights, but these identities never really held much importance for me…they didn’t register. No, a writer is a storyteller. True, I told stories, and for school, I wrote stories in my journal. I even enjoyed this process. And so despite the fact that adolescence had indeed called on me to be a writer, crafting stories, profiles, or “vignettes” as I liked to think of them, I somehow didn’t assume the identity. My stories weren’t very well developed, more like descriptions of brief moments in time; I felt that this was my unique brand of expression and liked to share my creativity with friends, but still hoped to one day be a real writer, not merely a writer in the worlds of my journal. Continue reading

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Literacy Story – The Year of the Kite

Image from Windart, click me to view original source.


I can vividly remember some of my earliest writing, from a poem about the Statue of Liberty, to greeting cards prepared especially for my mother. It was at the ripe old age of 12, however, that I had an idea that writing would come to be a meaningful part of my life. Age 12 was the year of the kite, my first discovery that words could be manipulated and positioned to create meaningful and memorable mental images and movement. I remember my English teacher from that time, vividly – Mrs. Beer: Tall, waspish, blonde-haired with small pale features, proper, reserved, and the first person to fling wide open the doors of literacy. Continue reading

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Language & Cognition (& Pragmatics & Interpretation &…)

Image from University of Melbourne, click me to view original source.

Language – communication and expression – and cognition – thought and thinking – when put together equals what? Psycholinguistics, or to quote Altmann, “…the mental processes that underlie our use of language” (1997, xi). Having studied psychology and psychological counseling, the field of psycholinguistics has always held some fascination for me: “Why do we say/write the things we say/write and how do we say/write them?”; “How do we interpret experience and construct meaning using language?”; “What does it take to be a good linguist or language learner?”; “Where does language come from and how are all languages related and yet also unique?”; etc. It is the answers to these questions (well, primarily the second one) that have nagged at me throughout the past decade as I attempted to make sense of human behavior and more recently, language and communication. Continue reading

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Why Does Writing Really Matter?


Why does writing really matter?” he asked me. I thought about it for only a brief moment as the answer plainly introduced itself, “Because there are things that one cannot say.” “How true,” I thought after speaking those words. Perhaps I should have written them. I have come to realize that though I’m not currently writing to live that it’s the process of free-writing that releases us, let’s the bullshit fly from our fingers to make room for the gems hidden beneath. I use the terms “writing to live” with the intention of revealing the therapy that writing once provided me.“But if I cannot speak it, why should writing be different?” he then asked. I realized that this new question was quite difficult to answer. Perhaps speaking the answer would reveal very little of the truth behind my statement. Perhaps only living the experience would drive the truth home.
Continue reading

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