She smiles and says: The best way to be happy is….

I’m every ELT (English Language Teaching) publisher’s worse nightmare since I hardly ever stick to the book. I go off topic a lot in class. [Actually I go off topic when talking with people as well…see like right now…apparently I even do it while typing!!! Let’s see if I can get back on topic]

So in class whenever a student says one word, I take that word and build a whole conversation session around it.

Well a couple of days ago, a student mentioned that she loves watching the dolphins. I go

Me: What dolphins? There are dolphins in Kuwait?

The whole class all at once: “Yeeeeeeeeessssssss”

Girl: Teacher, teacher.

Me: Yes, student, student

Girl: You see more more dolphins near to issssssslands in Kuwait.”

A couple of minutes was spent on getting the exact home address of these dolphins; then I go:

Me: So watching the dolphins swim makes you happy, huh?

Her: More, more. It’s my nickname. My friends say me dolphin.

Me: Hmmmm. What else? What else makes you happy?

Now the question was address to the whole class. So what makes you happy. The list came:

  • Religion
  • Health
  • Our family
  • Our country
  • The government
  • Peace
  • Money
  • Food
  • Friends
  • Work

The next 15 minutes or so was spent trying to rank the factors above. Debates ranged from can’t people who live in a war zone (lack of peace) be happy? Can’t sick people be happy? Do rich countries have happier people than poor countries? Can you make yourself happy by changing the factors that don’t make you happy?

One particular girl was quite all this time. I could see she had something to say but wouldn’t. With her eyes I felt she was telling me, hey I know the secret to happiness and it’s none of the above. She just kept smiling at me.

Me: Come on tell us

Gurl 2: What?

Me: Your secret

Gurl 2: Which secret?

Me: The secret behind that smile

Gurl 2: Let me hear what they have to say first

Gurl 1 aka Dolphin: [Something in Arabic]

Me: Huh? Channel 2 [my way of asking them to speak English, sometimes I say switch to MBC 4]

Dolphin: I say to her to say to us she think what is more more important.

She smiles, I smile, she says:

Gurl 2: The best way to be happy is to [long pause] ……………………have a very bad memory.

The whole class is silent for a while….as if they are wiping some ‘unwanted’ memories from their lives. When they reemerged they all looked happier.

UPDATE: After posting this I googled ‘dolphins in Kuwait’ and saw that our own Intlxpt has a post about it.

Here’s a pic and another one here

And here’s a list of other mammals in Kuwait


9 thoughts on “She smiles and says: The best way to be happy is….

  1. Words of Wisdom … but not all of us could afford to have bad memory in this age and time … but i wish i would

  2. I know also somebody who always look for some pills to erase her memory, but for me I don’t want to erase it 🙂

  3. Oh! Your lucky, lucky students! You make it FUN!

    I think the secret is taking the focus OFF learning English and on to some topic they want to discuss so badly that they are speaking without having to think too much about it. They want to express themselves. Woooo Hooooo, you rock, Magical!

    And what a sweet girl, what a great secret!

  4. Your way of teaching is the most wonderful, or shall I say magical cuz it makes you happier;)
    The girl is right, I actually read that somewhere. Although I don’t know if I wish I have a bad memory, what happens to happy memories then! the ones that make us go on in life sometimes.

  5. oh my God… that girl is soo right!
    Magical you ought to give her an A now. 😛

    the Channel 2 and MBC 4 just cracked me up by the way! haha

  6. proshat: she is a very smart and talented girl. i think what she meant was that we should only cling onto the good memories. Let the unhappiness slip through your memoirs.

    grey: a selective memory; one that only remembers the good times.

    rieaane: one can’t completely erase ‘troubles’ memories; but it would if they stop surfacing too much.

    intlxpatr: would you believe that i always learn more from the students then they do from me.

    moon-light7: yes, yes, yes. Being in class is magical for me. You wouldn’t believe how many times a “class” has helped me during troubled times.

    I think she meant having a bad memory when it comes to the sadness. You can’t forget the good times; otherwise how would you prove that you ever existed. Memories is all we have.

    cancer3ian: 😀 I love it when students says more, more and teacher, teacher. 😀 😀 Oh, that’s another thing i don’t do: give grades. i get them to evaluate their progress.

  7. LOL I think they meant having a government that strives to take care of the welfare and happiness of its people. That student was right; the government does play a major role in our happiness.

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