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离开自己的舒适圈,去直面恐惧 [复制链接]

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When I was sevenI went to summer camp. My parents found it necessary for peace of mind. And atnoon each day the campers would go to a pond, where they had floating docks.You could jump off the end into the deep end. I was born premature. I wasalways very small. My left lung had collapsed when I was born.
And I've alwayshad buoyancy problems. So water was something that scared me to begin with. ButI would go in on occasion. And on one particular day, the campers were jumpingthrough inner tubes, They were diving through inner tubes. And I thought thiswould be great fun. So I dove through the inner tube, and the bully of the campgrabbed my ankles. And I tried to come up for air, and my lower back hit thebottom of the inner tube. And I went wild eyed and thought I was going to die.A camp counselor fortunately came over and separated us. From that point onwardI was terrified of swimming. That is something that I did not get over. Myinability to swim has been one of my greatest humiliations and embarrassments.That is when I realized that I was not the Incredible Hulk.
But there is ahappy ending to this story. At age 31 -- that's my age now -- in August I tooktwo weeks to re-examine swimming, and question all the of the obvious aspectsof swimming. And went from swimming one lap -- so 20 yards -- like a drowningmonkey, at about 200 beats per minute heart rate -- I measured it -- to goingto Montauk on Long Island, close to where I grew up, and jumping into the oceanand swimming one kilometer in open water, getting out and feeling better thanwhen I went in. And I came out, in my Speedos, European style, feeling like theIncredible Hulk.
And that's whatI want everyone in here to feel like, the Incredible Hulk, at the end of thispresentation. More specifically, I want you to feel like you're capable ofbecoming an excellent long-distance swimmer, a world-class language learner,and a tango champion. And I would like to share my art. If I have an art, it'sdeconstructing things that really scare the living hell out of me. So, movingonward.
Swimming ……
Languages.Material versus method. I, like many people, came to the conclusion that I wasterrible at languages. I suffered through Spanish for junior high, first yearof high school, and the sum total of my knowledge was pretty much, "Dondeesta el bano?" And I wouldn't even catch the response. A sad state ofaffairs. Then I transferred to a different school sophomore year, and I had achoice of other languages. Most of my friends were taking Japanese. So Ithought why not punish myself? I'll do Japanese. Six months later I had thechance to go to Japan. My teachers assured me, they said, "Don't worry. You'llhave Japanese language classes every day to help you cope. It will be anamazing experience." My first overseas experience in fact. So my parentsencouraged me to do it. I left.
I arrived inTokyo. Amazing. I couldn't believe I was on the other side of the world. I metmy host family. Things went quite well I think, all things considered. My firstevening, before my first day of school, I said to my mother, very politely,"Please wake me up at eight a.m." So, (Japanese) But I didn't say(Japanese). I said, (Japanese). Pretty close. But I said, "Please rape meat eight a.m." (Laughter) You've never seen a more confused Japanesewoman.
I walked in toschool. And a teacher came up to me and handed me a piece of paper. I couldn'tread any of it -- hieroglyphics, it could have been -- because it was Kanji,Chinese characters adapted into the Japanese language. Asked him what thissaid. And he goes, "Ahh, okay okay, eehto, World History, ehh, Calculus,Traditional Japanese." And so on. And so it came to me in waves. There hadbeen something lost in translation. The Japanese classes were not Japaneseinstruction classes, per se. They were the normal high school curriculum forJapanese students -- the other 4,999 students in the school, who were Japanese,besides the American. And that's pretty much my response.
And that set meon this panic driven search for the perfect language method. I triedeverything. I went to Kinokuniya. I tried every possible book, every possibleCD. Nothing worked until I found this. This is the Joyo Kanji. This is a Tabletrather, or a poster of the 1,945 common-use characters as determined by theMinistry of Education in 1981. Many of the publications in Japan limitthemselves to these characters, to facilitate literacy -- some are required to.And this became my Holy Grail, my Rosetta Stone.
As soon as Ifocused on this material, I took off. I ended up being able to read AsahiShinbu, Asahi newspaper, about six months later -- so a total of 11 monthslater -- and went from Japanese I to Japanese VI. Ended up doing translationwork at age 16 when I returned to the U.S., and have continued to apply thismaterial over method approach to close to a dozen languages now. Someone whowas terrible at languages, and at any given time, speak, read and write five orsix. This brings us to the point, which is, it's oftentimes what you do, nothow you do it, that is the determining factor. This is the difference betweenbeing effective -- doing the right things -- and being efficient -- doingthings well whether or not they're important.
You can also dothis with grammar. I came up with these six sentences after much experimentation.Having a native speaker allow you to deconstruct their grammar, by translatingthese sentences into past, present, future, will show you subject, object,verb, placement of indirect, direct objects, gender and so forth. From thatpoint, you can then, if you want to, acquire multiple languages, alternate themso there is no interference. We can talk about that if anyone in interested.And now I love languages.
So fear is yourfriend. Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn't do.More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the bestresults that I've had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been fromasking a simple question: what's the worst that can happen? Especially withfears you gained when you were a child. Take the analytical frameworks, the capabilitiesyou have, apply them to old fears. Apply them to very big dreams.
And when I thinkof what I fear now, it's very simple. When I imagine my life, what my lifewould have been like without the educational opportunities that I had, it makesme wonder. I've spent the last two years trying to deconstruct the Americanpublic school system, to either fix it or replace it. And have done experimentswith about 50,000 students thus far -- built, I'd say, about a half dozenschools, my readers, at this point. And if any of you are interested in that, Iwould love to speak with you. I know nothing. I'm a beginner. But I ask a lotof questions, and I would love your advice. Thank you very much.

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