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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Salmon..... Tales of a Trainee

Our resident trainee blogger and English trainee reflects .....

I once read that the Aymara, an indigenous population from the Andes, have a different take on time: they are the only culture in the world to gesture in front of themselves and not back over their shoulders when talking about the past. This is because the Aymara don’t face the flow of time, they turn their backs on it; in their eyes the past is what they can see and the future is what they can’t see. It is a profound logic. Almost universally across all cultures time is compared to a river; it’s just that in the 21st century we find ourselves constantly fighting against the impetus of the waters, like salmon struggling upstream to reproduce. And do you know what happens to most species of salmon when they reach their spawning ground? They die. So long, and thanks for all the fish. Quite sensibly, the Aymara skip the salmon run and allow the future to carry them out to sea; they just go with the flow.

Nowhere in the world does time move more like a river than in school. Sometimes it’s a dribble, sometimes it’s a trickle, but most of the time it’s the gushing torrent of a river in spate, made even more treacherous by the flotsam and jetsam of exams and data. But the river of time in school isn’t any old river: it is a river full of leaping salmon. It is the River Tyne of rivers (apparently the best for salmon fishing in the UK). Like the salmon we – students and teachers alike – are anadromous, from the Greek for ‘running upward’. We push on, ever upwards, in the name of progress. (Forget the school run, it’s all about the salmon run.) But I think that sometimes we forget how far we’ve come and how quickly – all upriver. We forget to pause in a plunge pool below the next waterfall of assessments and enjoy the view. We forget to turn our backs on our future goals and admire our past achievements. Try it sometime: think like a South American salmon and bask in the shallows where time moves more slowly. Think like an Aymara and enjoy the view

Matt Irwin, English trainee teacher, Wyvern College

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