I am attaching a photograph of cherry blossoms in our neighborhood in a suburb of Japan. As you know, cherry blossoms are the most popular icon for renewal in Japan. Of course since the Japanese sent cherry trees to the US to be planted in the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., they have become an icon for renewal in the US also. But way before the planting of cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin, Houseman in 1896 penned  A Shropshire Lad, about how cherry blossoms represent renewal.Here is the first verse. Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing  white for Eastertide. One of my responsibilities when I worked in NZ was to recruit students in Japan and discuss the progress of the students in NZ with their parents in Japan. As a result, I flew to Japan every six weeks or so. As a result, I was able to experience all the seasons two times. I relished a cherry blossom festival we had on our campus each September and I view cherry blossoms both in our neighborhood and other places in Japan each April. In my 8 years in NZ, I could say that I lived 16 years since I experience all seasons two times per year. What does all this have to do with language teaching? Well of course renewal is central to anything we do in life. But I thought about the title for this edition of my blog as a result of two recent events. First, Jerry Gebhard, one of my former doctoral students at Teachers College, Columbia University sent me an article he had just had published on observation–as you know by know my central passion–outside of stamp collecting, family, and other non academic pursuits. Jerry wrote a book about ways to observe and co-wrote a book with another of my former doctoral students, Robert Oprandy. They present some of my ideas and activities in their own words, which is a kind of renewal. Another reason I am writing this blog now is because I met a teacher in Japan last week who is doing an MA at Lancaster University on line. I asked him whether he had read anything by Richard/Dick Allwright. He said he had not. On the one hand I was astonished because when Dick was at Lancaster he taught courses in observation, published articles and books about the topic and made presentations at loads of conferences. But then I was reminded that when I was at Teachers College, during about the same years Dick was at Lancaster, I also developed many courses on observation and my doctoral students who were keen on the topic did their dissertations on the topic. But today, some 15 plus years after my retirement, my courses no longer exist. And if you were to ask TC MA candidates whether they had read anything by me most would respond the same way that the Lancaster MA candidate had responded. And why not? Renewal means that when we leave a place new people come and do their thing, as they should. Both Dick and I had loads of freedom to explore as we wanted to. There is no reason those who came after us when we left should have the same interests. That is part of renewal. The article I am attaching which is dated 2014 shows that renewal occurs in many ways. One way is through our former students who pass on some of our ideas in their own words and in a more up to date way that is more in tune with present conditions. I wrote my first article on observation in 1977! Dick Allwright wrote his first articles about the same time. He and others reproduced Beyond Rashomon, my first published article, a few years later. But this is still before most teachers who are entering the profession were born.  So renewal is crucial! We cannot depend on teachers reading articles published before they were born. That is why Jerry’s attached article is so important. We need renewal all the time. When teachers ask me where to study for an MA, I suggest Hunter College in NY where the staff do analysis of video clips from day 1! Each institution changes and renews itself in new ways just as cherry blossoms bloom fresh each year and then die and renew themselves the next year. In May I will be doing a 4 hour live on line course with the International Institute of Teacher Development–iTDi–focusing on analysis of our teaching. We will base many of our conversations on Contrasting Conversations, a book that Longman published many years ago and has lost them loads of money. But for the minority of teachers keen to analyze what they do rather than judge what they do the book and the course will be the source of renewal! Enjoy, enjoy,

John

PS Though I majored in English and Spanish, one of my favorite courses was botany. The way we classify plants was helpful in my development of my classification system for describing communications. When you realize that a cherry and a strawberry are in the same family though cherries come from trees and strawberries come from small plants and that apricots too are in the same family you become aware of the importance of looking beneath the surface for analyzing what we are doing.

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