Sunday, September 5, 2010

To hamster

P likes to compare me to a hamster. In Dutch “to hamster” is actually a real verb, meaning to gather and collect stuff (see the great ad from a Dutch supermarket about their "hamsterweeks"). Which is exactly what I do. Movie tickets, boarding cards, restaurant receipts, … If they have the slightest whiff of a memory, they’ll end up in one of my drawers.
I’ve improved over the last few years. I really have. I’ve learned to throw stuff away. That is…until I started teaching again. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been gathering everything that seemed only remotely interesting to use in one or the other lesson, I’ve created tons of material myself, and I’ve bought an entire library of course- and exercise books.

Yesterday morning, I decided this can’t go on. I started throwing out all the old, and by now irrelevant, newspaper articles (regardless of the time I’ve spent making vocabulary exercises about them), I got rid of stuff I’ve kept for months, thinking “it might be useful someday”, and I tried to get some order in the chaos. When I was finally done, after several hours, I looked at my closet. All the loose papers had gone. Everything was neatly piled or put into maps. But, I still didn’t have a clear overview ( I still haven’t found a perfect system to classify all the material (levels? subjects? competences?). And there’s simply still too much stuff.

So, the next step is to go through the entire closet once again, folder by folder, and make yet another selection. This hamster is going to get organized, even if it takes days!
(of course, I could have done this over the summer holidays, and not one day before my new school year starts…, in a panic-induced, last-minute attempt to get prepared…)

1 comment:

S (spacetiger) said...

Funny, in English we have "squirrel away" which as far as I can tell mirrors "to hamster" - I guess I never thought of hamsters doing that sort of thing. But then again I rarely saw a squirrel in Belgium, even in the countryside!

Language is always fascinating :). I say if you have room for stuff it's ok to hoard. I too keep far too many journals and papers and notebooks and notes from classes or just anything. My room in my parents house flooded on a regular basis for a couple of years and destroyed a lot of magazines and I STILL couldn't throw them out, despite the mold that was growing from them. Eventually I think we pitched them for health and safety purposes... heh.