Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bretegne v Brittany.... Keep learning

I write two very different blogs; this one, 'French Chalk',  about my experiences in France, in particular in relation to teaching & education, and the other ' The Grey Jigsaw', about my personal journey through & with cancer.

These are quite disparate blogs, but just once in a while the two overlap and what occurs in one is relevant and applies in the other. And his occurred this week on a visit to one of my cousins and his wife, who now live permanently in Brittany, France.

Now to explain I have to give you some background, if you like set the scene. This cousin is one of two brothers, who I am close to from my home town of Gosport in Hampshire and both brothers now own property in Brittany. Starting with a big renovation job of a country cottage over years and now a further renovation of a village town house. They have worked together, played together and holidayed together and in 2015 the eldest one decided to settle permanently in France.

Now this is a big move for anyone, with the arrangements, the legal stuff, the systems, the language and the culture, but for my cousin  and his wife this was an even bigger step as he is diagnosed with Parkinson's and she has longstanding health problems.

We arrived for our stay excited but unsure how they would be coping, its a tall order to take such a big step and challenge yourself, but what an amazing thing they have done. The house is a delight and made so homely, the plans are afoot for work and they are slowly but surely getting embedded in the local community; learning French and joining groups, it great to see!

We visited the area and its delights; had coffee in it village bars, ate in a local restaurant and puzzled at the signs written dually  in French & Breton. We had three days of pleasure in a very different part of France, a real holiday on holiday, it was lovely.

So what has this to do with education or cancer, well its all about determination and  belief. They have not sat back and thought , 'we can't do anything', ' we have to just put up with what life has dealt', no they are up and fighting. Its not easy, but they are taking on a new life and moving forward, brilliant. They are not accepting the limitations, they are seeking solutions and adapting to a new way of being.

Children learn & accept they won't get it all right, but keep trying. They immerse themselves in what needs to be done, seek solutions and eagerly engage in change. There is a fundamental conflict underlying learning; starting with not understanding and driven by and desire to comprehend, to reach stasis. The old adage that, 'conflict causes change'' is the leading reason we are motivated to learn or retract from learning. We are curious, want to conform, mature  or understand, solve a problem or feel an emotion, but all too often we let this drive stall and seek to withdraw. The young of all kinds are  endlessly drawn on, continually curious and want to grow, they are hard wired to learn.

So how great to see my cousin and his wife, despite all the problems and strains choosing to grow, to step out and question the world, make a new life, progress.
What's that other adage, oh yes........If you are not moving forward you are going backwards. And as my cousin said, "Its not me , its everyone else that's moving". Never too late to learn, we've just re-met a couple who are living proof of this.They say,'you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends', and we are proud to call my Brittany cousins both.
Merci mes amis