Tag: Michel de Montaigne

On writing every day.

750words semantic analysis

There’s two books I read regularly. Both of those books are by authors who evidently love the written word but treat it quite differently.

The first is The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian, a 17th century Spanish Jesuit. I read his short, pithy maxims every single day on repeat. When I get to number 300, I flick back and start at number one again.

The second, which I’ve read many times is Michel de Montaigne‘s Essays. This rambling, inconsistent and charming tome is by a 16th century landowner and reluctant public servant. I (and others who have read him) feel like I know him personally.*

Both works make me want to write not just about the kinds of things I write about on this blog, but just for myself. Not necessarily for an audience, and about anything I want.

Ideally, I’d write in the series of journals I’ve kept since turning 18. Realistically, I write in there sporadically, and usually when I’m feeling down. I want more regular outpourings and means typing instead of physically writing.

I’m a fairly fast touch-typist. I used to be up to the heady heights of around 100 words per minute (wpm), but nowadays I’m happy with 60-70 wpm. That’s obviously way more than I’d get if I was scrawling: I’d be lucky to hit 30 wpm, and even that would be illegible.

Thankfully, and you’ll be delighted to know there’s a point to this post, I’ve re-discovered a place that embodies this ‘private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily’ element for which I’ve been grasping.

Not only is 750words.com extremely well-designed, but it’s got semantic analysis of what you write, co-operative style values and badges!** The image at the top of this post shows some of the analysis the site does. There’s more than the limited amount I’m sharing there. πŸ˜‰

Read this for Buster’s (the site owner) reason for creating – and continuing to run – the site:

750 Words exists because of mutual good will between myself and the people who use it. The site wouldn’t exist without the generosity, patience, and humor of everyone involved. Rather than charge for the site, I want to keep the site free, and simply offer an opportunity for people who have the means and the desire to help keep things going. I don’t want to make a ton of money, I just want to have enough to justify the time, energy, and money it takes to build, maintain, and enjoy, while also keeping the spirit of it fun and friendly.

That’s my kind of site. πŸ™‚

*I’m also greatly enjoying Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer.

**Although not, sadly, of the ‘Open Badges’ variety.

4 quotations that will guide me next academic year

I love a good quotation. What I mean by a good quotation is one that takes something you’ve been thinking about abstractly and would take you lots of words to express, and then says it in a very concise (often, pithy) way. I’ve a new role as of next academic year, starting in September. Alongside a 50% timetable, I’ll be E-Learning Staff Tutor. It’ll not be easy!

1. “It’s hard not to act like a caveman when you’re living in a cave.” (paraphrased from John O’Farrell‘s An Utterly Impartial History of Britain)

I’ve got to recognise that not everyone lives in the extremely connected world I and my peers inhabit. There’s staff at my school who don’t have broadband at home ‘because I don’t use the Internet that much’, have had the same mobile phone (if they own one at all) for about 8 years, and who only use an interactive whiteboard if and when they are observed. I think my first task will be to lure them out of the cave. It may be safe and offer shelter, but there’s no sabre-toothed tigers out there anymore… πŸ˜‰

2. “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” (Chinese proverb)

I came across this marvellous proverb thanks to Dave Stacey in his helpful post Write Doug a job description! In terms of my role next year, focusing on the task at hand could prove rather difficult. I can see so much that needs to be done! So long as I know where I’d like the school to be in 3 years’ time, I can start thinking about the baby steps to get us there. And I’ve got the power of the networkβ„’ behind me! :-p

3. The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. (Marcus Aurelius)

I’m going to have to accept the fact that I may not be the most popular person in the world next year. It’s a bit like when you become a teacher and initially you want all the students to like you. Then you realise that you’re not there to be liked – that’s just a bonus. You’re there to help them learn things. It’s going to be the same with my E-Learning Tutor role. So long as I ‘keep it real’ and don’t just try to please everybody, I’ll be OK. πŸ™‚

4. “I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself.” (Michel De Montaigne)

At the end of the day, and as I have said many times before, I came into the teaching profession to change the experience of school for students. I know my principles and I know when I’m letting myself down. There’s a lot of jargon and extraneous stuff in the world of education that I haven’t got to get bogged down with. Whilst I need to move people on within the school, it hasn’t got to be at the expense of my core beliefs and values. πŸ˜€

What about you? What quotations guide and inspire you? What are you aiming for next academic year?

*If you haven’t read O’Farrell’s An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Montaigne’s Essays, I urge you to!

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