We had a film crew at the school today, from the Wall Street Journal, I am told.
They were interested, not so much in the school, as in one of our students and his recent well-documented return to full-time education at the age of more than sixty: Mr Wang Shi, noted Chinese entrepreneur, who is studying at Cambridge University as a visiting scholar after a similar period spent at Harvard, and who is at OISE for a little language support.
Over the years I have taught a number of well-known individuals in their fields or countries – a football manager, an international statesman and a singer spring to mind (and we have an international footballer at the school at the moment, of whom more later in the week). On the whole people of repute tend to find a language school something of a refuge. I remember the statesman telling me that in Cambridge he savoured the opportunity to walk down to the shops unmolested, and to talk to intelligent people (his classmates) with no hint of an agenda.
In its way, a language school is an egalitarian place. Everyone is here for the same reason – to learn, to work on a skill. Students occasionally arrive from their various high-pressure worlds with some residual competitive anxiety, but this usually fades pretty quickly. Most appreciate the rare opportunity to engage with a subject – English – for a given length of time, for the most part away from the pressures of the office (although my statesmen did take calls from Yasser Arafat in class once or twice). And most will soon give in to the more unexpected opportunities for relaxation – the pub, the cinema and so on. Relaxation is an aid to language learning, after all.
I don’t think the presence of the film crew altered much of that.