Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Questions help us think

Yesterday, I was asked by an experienced university professor about something I wrote in my book, The Question Mark Method. About the difference between learning and studying, and how to approach it in teaching.

The lady professor, a wonderful and esteemed colleague, stated she had never thought about it like that. At first she thought I was merely talking about little learners, but when I explained I teach all age groups and levels, she was puzzled. ‘Yes, I see. But it must be difficult teaching like that every time… it drains your energy to be so motivating and to try so hard every time…’

After a while, we agreed it was, but then again – we agreed it was not. Just lecturing and testing is NOT teaching. Teaching them (how) to (want to) learn IS.

This is a tiny book packing a lot of wisdom – for #teachers in all phases of their career – #nonfiction #tips by this here teacher trainer with 25 years of teaching #experience! Change the way you #think about yourself, your learners, your teaching and your #trainees! Simplify your work to let the #heart conquer over paperwork!

The Question Mark Method can be used by learners and educators. If I could tell you one crucial thing about it to instigate your interest, this is it – IT WORKS! It really does. It really, truly simplifies things!


*paperback Lulu.com https://bit.ly/2E27ltx
*e-pub Lulu.com https://bit.ly/2qzmYFs
*Apple Books https://apple.co/2LFY7aB
*Lehmanns Media https://bit.ly/2DZRwDB
*Amazon https://amzn.to/2RzJVUd
*Kobo Rakuten https://bit.ly/38oyvJ2
*Barnes&Noble https://bit.ly/359QJvF

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NICI’ S CHRISTMAS TALE by Jean Gill – my review

SOMEONE TO ADMIRE, INDEED

And I am not talking about Nici the dog, the main character in this short story. Although I may as well, all things considered. I am talking about the author, Jean Gill. As a long-time fan of Jean Gill’s writing, I can honestly say this lady is one of the few people who leave me speechless and grateful to be able to witness their genius at work. She respects her characters and readers, and does her absolute best every time, without being arrogant or smug about it. This story is yet another proof of it. It is written just as it should be, wholesome, decent, discrete and revealing at the same time, offering you the life of a character in all its humbleness and relevance. I am not going to retell the contents to you, just offer my views on its creation.

The way this story is written is such a clever way of fitting a prequel into a spin-off sequel, to use the words so often used for various series of stories, be they movies or books. It can be read as a stand-alone, but, in my opinion, its richness will best be appreciated by fans of The Troubadours series (this reader included), as it tells parts of the original stories from the point of view of the main heroine’s loyal canine companion Nici, a character and protagonist of all the 4 books in the series in his own right. It will be like watching a familiar movie filmed with a different camera, from a different angle, and discovering things you hadn’t noticed before.

Reading Nici’s tale, at first, my mind must have felt like that of a dog’s, when it sniffs trails and traces around, looking for nothing special yet waiting eagerly to hit that special spot and then follow it through. And it did, of course. As Nici tells his story to his puppies, and you read about him hearing a girl sing, the entire thing just leaps into its rightful place and you blaze through the text with your heart warm and that feeling of peace in your chest. The tone is evocative of The Troubadours, the details and events well-paced, and overall – it is a wonderful haven for fans of the Troubadours series… As you reach the end, and I mean the very final line, it is just perfection. Full-circle for me, as the last line of the story links to the first book by Jean Gill I had read and fell in love with.

What I love about Nici’s Christmas Tale, as well as all of Jean Gill’s writing, is the way you can relate to the characters and events, regardless of the time or species in the book – she has that amazing, effortless ability of sneaking in lines about life and its timeless issues that just stop you and make you think, not just about the story, but about life and your own choices. I will try to explain, without giving away any spoilers. At one point, Nici tells his children about a herd tragedy, and you can feel his survivor’s guilt in the words, just as you would a human’s. It might even help you understand somebody in your surroundings.

We can all learn a lot from Nici, and from Jean Gill, too. About how to respect all life, how to cherish friends, family and kindness, and how to learn from our mistakes and appreciate our own growth.

I will leave you all with just one quote this time, with the author’s permission, but this one speaks to me the most.

‘Such a small thing to cling to, hope.’

(On a more personal note…

This story arrived to me last Christmas and it would have been a delightful read even then, were it not for the fact that I was unable to see then, due to a health mishap. As many of Jean Gill’s reader fans, I am delighted with her newsletter every time it hits my inbox (one of the few I actually do read and even answer sometimes), and this tale was the author’s gift to readers. See? Delightful surprises sometimes lurk in newsletters, where you least expect them;). I am happy to have been able to read it now. So well-fitted to the entire timeline.)

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