I don’t like bananas, but I like banana chips

Photo by Markus Leupold-Löwenthal
from the 
Wikimedia Commons

Getting ready to present at the World Storytelling conference in Kobe next Sunday, so I don’t have much time for blogging.  But I did want to get something down which jumped out at me today.  I was lounging around in class during break time and one of my students pulled a pineapple candy out of his pocket.  It’s a round, very sour candy that’s pretty popular in Japan.  I said, “You know, I love that pineapple candy, but I don’t really like pineapples.”  The student, Ken, who is a pretty shy guy and doesn’t talk very much, looked at me as if I was totally crazy and said, “But why Kevin?  Why?”  I wasn’t sure if he was teasing me, but even if he was, I was down with that. 
“Well,” I said, “Pineapples have a great flavor, but they are so dry.  They make my mouth feel strange.  That candy has all the goodness of pineapples and none of the dryness.” 
Ken slapped his hand against the desk and said, “I feel the same way, too.”
At which point, Ru-Chan, who was sitting across from Ken, said, “I don’t like blueberries.  But I love blueberry yogurt.” 
I jumped up and said, “I feel the same way!  How about bananas?”
Ru-chan kind of frowned and said, “I don’t like bananas.  But I like banana chips.”
Ken clapped and said, “Yes! Yes!”
And I said, “What is it about banana chips?  I love them, too.”
Then the bell rang and we started class.
So what is this little anecdote about anyway?  Not much, really.  Candy, fruit, a little connection, a sense of excitement.  It didn’t generate a lot of language, but I think it brought Ken, Ru-chan and I a little closer together.  It probably also helped to boost both Ru and Ken’s confidence.  But most of all, it was just fun.  We were just hanging out and talking.  And we all had a good time.  Sometimes I’m so caught up in how to give my students more and more language, caught up in how to challenge them to use what language they have in new ways, that I lose sight of what’s happening right in front of me.  Which is a shame, because it’s in the here and now of class that I have my best chance to connect with a student and not just teach, but allow us to learn about and from each other.  Maybe if I could dial back on all the things I want to do or think I need to do in class, I would be able to take more advantage of these pineapple-candy-moments.  You know, the kind with all the goodness of learning and none of the dryness of teaching.      

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8 thoughts on “I don’t like bananas, but I like banana chips

  1. I think you've coined a term there, "pineapple candy moments" I remember reading something about how "get to know yous" weren't wastes of times as students need to create that environment to learn in. I'm sure it's the same throughout the year, the more bonded the group the better the environment for learning.

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  2. Hi Chris,I think I'm going to call my first novel "Pineapple Candy Moments" regardless of the content of the story. Which might lead to some confusion unless it happens to be about pineapples or at least about candy. I agree that we have to be working to make a positive and safe environment throughout the year. And probably we can't just do it in class. Or by pushing the students more. Or by any of the other things I spend almost all of my time focusing on. I seriously need to hang out with and enjoy my students' company more often. Maybe I should take a class on the art of small talk?Kevin

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  3. Hey Kevin,I loved the creative language construction and the anecdote! I 100000000% agree with what you and Chris have said. I have found early on that every small connection made outside of, before, or after class has immense effects on students confidence, morale, and trust in me, as a teacher. Especially here where the entire curriculum is focused on accuracy and perfection. Once I get that engagement outside of class, they see that in the end, I just want to hear what they have to say. It causes a chain reaction too. Students who haven't previously engaged with me outside of class begin to do so. And the atmosphere in classes becomes more vibrant. Those positive vibes effect everyone :)John

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  4. Dear Kevin,Such a cute yet insightful post. Sometimes these pineapple candy moments catches us at the most unexpected times, but leaves us with a smile on our faces and more thoughtfulness in the days to come…Here's to those pineapple-candy-moments. :)And all the best with the storytelling conference this Sunday! I wish I could meet you sometime..Ratna

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  5. Hi John,Thanks for the 1000000% agreement. And I 10000000% agree with your agreement and comment in general. Finding ways to connect with students in English outside of class helps make what happens in class real. I think in my situation (and I'm guessing yours as well) some of my students have a hard time feeling that English is really a tool of communication. I try and make sure they are actually sharing information in class and learning about each other or soomething during class. But still, I think it can all feel very study-ish and disconnected from life (whatever that means). Hopefully I'll do a better job of taking advantage of situations where some non-class English communication can take place from here on out. I really want to set up a whole series of pineapple candy moment chain reactions.Kevin

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  6. Hi Ratna,Thanks for the comment. I actually have one more week until the conference, so it's going to be a week of long nights for me.I hope we can meet as well. Hopefully I will be heading to Korea soon for a conference. It would be great to be able to talk things over face to face.Kevin

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