The Manchester Attacks

A week ago, I awoke to the tragedy of the Manchester attacks. Over the past few years I haven’t spent much time living there, but it’s where I was born and raised, and frankly it will always be my home. Obviously, I was heartbroken when I heard the news. Living so far away made it even harder to deal with this catastrophe, because I believed that no one would understand my turmoil. 

However, as the week wore on, students and friends showed me endless compassion, and this softened my heartbreak and the homesickness that accompanied it. As I dragged myself out of my negative mindset, I became aware of the positive actions that surrounded this horrific event. In Manchester, taxi drivers turned off their meters in order to evacuate the arena. When the local hospitals ran out of food, companies and individuals supplied them with refreshments. Many tattoo artists worked for free inking the iconic Manchester bee onto the skin of numerous individuals. After the minutes silence at St. Ann’s Square, the crowd erupted into a spontaneous rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger. 

There have been countless charitable actions that have proved just how amazing humans are. Unfortunately, the main thing we’ll remember about the 22nd May is the vicious attack against so many innocent people. Perhaps what we should remember about this day is the avalanche of charity and bravery that encompassed so many people during the aftermath. If we can focus on the positives, the world doesn’t seem like such a bad place. 

Musing: Korean Dining Rules

I love eating out. I adore walking into a restaurant where I have never been before, scouting out the best seat and analysing the menu for the most appetising items. It’s the thrill of the unknown. Even in Korea, where I am potentially the only foreign face to grace their establishment that week (or perhaps even longer), I enjoy trawling for the best restaurants.

However, there is a certain off-putting aspect to Korean dining, and that is the rules of eating. I enjoy experimenting with my food in order to combine the best tastes and textures, but it often feels as though there is a set of unyielding regulations for eating Korean food, (ironically, this country also boasts a bizarre array of snack flavours and pizza toppings). There have been multiple occasions where the restaurant staff have instructed me on the correct order to put the food into my mouth. Admittedly, there have been times when I’m faced with something obscure, and I am grateful for their interruption. However, when it comes to basic Korean food that I regularly consume – and I don’t always comply with the rules – the altercation can be a little frustrating. After it feels as though the waiters are closely watching me to ensure that I eat correctly, and I feel concerned that my refusal to comply is rude. 

My Korean friends have also informed me on how to correctly consume food when we go out for dinner. Recently, a friend told me that the chilli spice on the table was for one of our dishes, but not another. When I questioned her on this idea she told me that the spice only complimented one of the meals. I tried it with both and I beg to differ, which leads me to ask who creates these regulations, and why are they continuing to be enforced?  

Teaching The Ant and the Grasshopper

I recently taught Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper to a class of elementary students. It brought stories from my youth rushing back to me, and as tends to be the case when you revisit these tales as an adult, I realised that I didn’t fully appreciate the moral back then. There’s something particularly unsettling about returning to books and movies from your youth and interpreting them with a mature mind. Therefore, I decided that it would be interesting to study a fable with my adult students.

Every time I teach this group, I walk away feeling that I’ve learnt so much from them, (sometimes I worry that they teach me more than I teach them). They are intuitive, interested in learning and generally well-rounded, and they didn’t fail to impress me during this class. As I expected, there is a Korean version of this fable, and the students were familiar with the moral of the story, but this didn’t detract from their enthusiasm.

There was a wide range of ideas about the story – which obviously created an interesting discussion. One student recalled a modern version of the fable where the grasshopper is a famous singer whilst the ant is a labourer who becomes sick from working too hard. It was a darkly comical outlook on modern society, and when I researched modern takes of the fable, I found that there is a multitude. If I teach this lesson again I will probably encourage a discussion of how the tale would unfold in modern life.

Below is a copy of the worksheet that I used. This class are intermediate, but the worksheet could easily be adapted to other levels.

The Ant and the Grasshopper Fable
An Aesop’s Fable

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.”
But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Moral of Aesop’s Fable: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Synonyms  
Chirping Carrying
Content Need
Bearing Tweeting
Toil Prepare
Moiling Delivering
Lay up Fulfilled
Distributing Hard work
Necessity Labour


Discussion           

Is there a fable like this in your country?

Do you enjoy reading stories with morals?

Do you relate to the ant or the grasshopper?

Which would you rather do, work hard or play hard? Is there a time for each?

Why didn’t the grasshopper work hard?

What do you think this story is trying to teach?

Discuss the phrase: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Discuss the phrase: “Prepare an umbrella before it rains.”
Do you think the ants should help the grasshopper?

How do you think the ant felt watching grasshopper play while she was working so hard? Have you ever been in a situation like this?

Do you think the grasshopper will help gather food next year?

Do you think any of the ants will choose to sing and dance rather than work to prepare for the winter?