Collaborative idea generation for ELT

This week’s prompt was suggested by Alan Tait on Twitter.

John Fairfax

It’s an obituary for John Fairfax, the first man to row solo across the Atlantic, and with his girlfriend, one of the first people to row across the Pacific. He was a man who sought adventure because it was there and he could.

What would you do with this obituary in your classroom? You can make any assumptions you like about the context it is used in. Post your ideas in the comments below. All ideas are welcome (there are no wrong answers!)

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Comments on: "John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74" (7)

  1. Sandy, I have a confession to make. I am a bad blog follower. When I clicked on the link, I ended up getting distracted and reading a completely different article – why bilinguals are smarter…. blame the NYT. I’ll read your article now ; )

    Keep up the good work!

    • :) Oh dear! The other link sounds interesting too though. At least you got there in the end! And you’re a good blog follower really, because you commented on the post, which is really the aim of the whole thing!
      Thanks very much,
      Sandy

  2. Hmmm… I have to admit that he doesn’t sound like a very nice man. Nevertheless, I think that this article has definite possibilities as a basis for an information-exchange exercise, or as a ‘what do you think he did next?’ exercise. You look terribly young in your picture, so you might not remember ‘Business Opportunties’, the red business english textbook, but in the chapter which covers past tenses, there was an exercise which told the story of Robert Maxwell, and it would give you a potted version of an episode of his life, and then say ‘what do you think he did next? did he A…, B……, or C,……’ (Robert Maxwell’s life was similarly dramatic.) It was good either as reading practice, or, of you read it out, or got students to read it out, good listening….

  3. Yep, he doesn’t sound very nice, does he?

    I AM old enough to (fondly) remember Business Opportunities (was it Vicky Hollett’s?) and I remember the Maxwell exercise. Another man you wouldn’t want to share a house with, I expect. And Fairfax was probably playing baccarat with his own money, not his newspapers’ pension fund.

    For the moment, I’ve given the text as reading homework until one of you two comes up with a more brilliant idea :)

  4. Hi Alan. OOps – we didn’t really come through, did we? What did you do in the end?

    Strikes me that this is a really good starting point for discussion of characteristics & qualities. Do students admire the man? Why? etc. They can probably think of other people, living or dead, who do deserve their admiration. (I’ll bet that’s what you did)

    Further to your remark about Robert Maxwell, Yes to your observations on his financial probity, no to your idea of his house training. According to his wife he was always perfectly charming (at home – what the bright young things at the office thought I don’t know).

    • Thanks Catherine. I really like that idea, and thanks for remembering to come back to it!
      I think I would use the picture as a predictionexericse – what do you think this man did? What was he like? Washe important?
      Maybe we could then move on to discussing other similar featsof endurance, and whether they are good/useful in any way or just self-indulgance. I imagine that could prompt quite a lot of debate!

      • Hi Sandy

        I hadn’t even thought of using the picture – I like your phrase ‘feats of endurance’ – reminds me that there’s a lot of stuff on the BBC website at the moment about Cook’s doomed expedition to the Antarctic.

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