Friday, January 4, 2013

Wish vs. Resolution

I've been beginning each class this week with the student's task of writing their New Year's Resolution(s). We've always made resolutions in our family and I like the opportunity to pass along some culture.

lighting a wish balloon on New Year's Eve

In the case of teaching, I had to check the  understanding of "resolution" and not "wish". It reminds me of when our youngest was about 5 years old and her resolution was to "Go to Disneyworld." We all laughed because we thought she was so cute, but we also realized that she didn't understand the difference between a resolution and a wish. In Turkey they make New Year's wishes. For example, last weekend in Cesme we saw and photographed many "wish" trees. On New Year's Eve, we lit paper hot air balloons, made wishes, and watched our balloons fly off into the dark sky. To help explain "resolution" without a dictionary, I gave examples like "I resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables" or "I resolve to do 10 push ups per day." For most students that was enough but several still needed more. So I a continuum where I started with words like "I would like"  (25 - 50% possible ) - "I wish" (51-90%ish) -  "I resolve" (90--100%). This seemed to work for the rest of the students and they began to write. But, when I saw their answers and behavior, I still wasn't so sure.

For example, in one of my lower classes most of the students wrote they "resolve to get better grades". Most had to borrow a pencil to write this. Most never take notes (except those who had extra pencils and paper to lend) or bring a book, or stop talking long enough to listen. Many started eating the scraps of paper left over from an earlier exercise while thinking of the "resolution". ( Luckily they didn't have any pens or mechanical pencils with which to shoot the spit wads.)

I've been wondering if it is Turkish students or most students in general who do not understand the connection between a "resolution" (you're going to make it happen) or a "wish" (there's a pretty good chance nothing will change.) I guess my point here is that even in making a "resolution", the attitude is  more like a " wish" as in "I wish my grades would magically improve without me doing a lick of work"  or "I wish I would ace this exam although I haven't studied one bit."

wish tree in Cesme
So back to the idea of "wish" vs. "resolution". I wish you all health and happiness. But, I resolve to...well. not everything is public.. but rest assured I have the steps in place to make it 90-100% sure.

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