Great Minds are Young

Archive for May 2011

Picture taken by Jennifer of her guitar

“Music’s the Medicine of my Mind!” When I read this on the wall of 14-year-old Lebanese Jennifer Al Ghoul I felt curious, happy and proud… Whether quoting John Logan or saying this from the heart, Jenny expressed her feelings, thoughts, and appreciation of music in the best way she could. Being a guitar player, and constantly trying to compose her own music, Jenny seeks comfort, consolation, inspiration and joy in music.

The great attachment of this young generation to music in general is impressive, but do all young people truly appreciate real music, and try to understand and interpret it? It is true that music has a special significance to each and every person, but does this generation have a proper musical education and culture? Do youngsters take advantage of the benefits of “real” music?

Research has shown that children that are actively involved with music have better academic results, their concentration ability is much better, their body control is stronger and their self-esteem is considerably higher.

Among many other functions, Music is a mood regulator, spirit uplifter, creativity booster and a great healer. Music is indeed the medicine of our mind…


13-year-old Iranian Shirin Al Ansari shares with us today one of her short poems that came from the heart. Poetry is Shirin’s safe haven where she expresses her feelings and thoughts, and flies far away to a fantasy world of her own.



I tell you I’m ok

I tell you I’m fine

But I’m just good at telling lies

I’ve said all my goodbyes

Now it’s time for me to fly

To a place far far away

Where I can scream and cry day by day

I will stay like this forever

This misery and pain will end never

My two boys had their piano final exam 2 days ago. I was trying hard to make them feel relaxed and enjoy it using my special “supportive skills” 😉 Well, it turned out at the end much easier and less complicated then I thought…

I have two totally different types of kids. The younger one rarely shows signs of stress about a test or performance; he always acts cool about it, he never mentions it except to know what his reward would be if he made it, and set some bargains 🙂 On the other hand, the older one considers it a huge responsibility, worries a lot about his ‘image’, stresses about it and sometimes becomes irritable and emotional.

Two days before their performance, their keyboard wire broke by “magic” 😀 My husband and I decided not to replace it, and stopped mentioning the test.

The night before the exam I talked to them about the importance of being positive thinkers and having self-confidence. I told them I was very proud of them no matter what the results would be, and that I was very sure they were going to pass their test very easily… Well, I tried to prepare them and help them overcome their stress and focus only on the rewards they would get when they pass. For my younger son it was very smooth and easy, for he did not seem that worried. For the older one, it needed some extra hugs…

Well, of course I would like to give my lectures and support all the credit for my boys’ great performance the following day, but it was not really the case! I mean it did help them a great deal ;), but what did most of the job were two major things:

  1. Some extremely crazy moments they spent with their father, where they sang, listened to very loud music, yelled, laughed, jumped, joked around, etc. This helped them let go of all the stress, get distracted, and become much more relaxed.
  2. A very welcoming and smiley examiner. As they stepped inside the examination room, they could clearly see his big smile and feel his supportive and kind attitude, which relieved them and made them more comfortable discussing their performance and all the other related stuff.

Very simple things may help us release our tension, let go of our worries and stress, and perform much better. Most of the times a positive thought, a smile, a song or a dance could perfectly do the job!

“Never knew a child could be so inspiring…” This comment was posted by 13-year old Meera Baya’a, one of the smartest, most determined and most ambitious young ladies I’ve ever met! Meera, along with many of her classmates and schoolmates, was one of the greatest sources of inspiration for me when designing activities and projects, creating discussion topics, or even just interacting with students. When I read her comment I couldn’t help but smiling and recalling some of the most enjoyable and rich moments in class, when my students and I had some of the most interesting conversations, which, in my opinion, were much more interesting and inspiring than any lesson in the book.

Meera, there is no greater inspiration than a child! Children of all ages are pure, simple, honest, imaginative, curious, sensitive, inquisitive, free-minded, open-hearted, positive and a lot more… To me, children are a big challenge for my heart and mind; they always bring the best out of me!

It breaks my heart to see a lot of students heavily crying after the exam because they missed some important questions and lost lots of marks due to lack of time. In most cases, teachers don’t understand them knowing for a fact that the exam is not too long and the time allocated to it is more than enough; which is completely true.

Problems of time management are common in exams but they can be easily overcome by following few tips:

  1. Try to control your anxiety eliminating all negative thoughts and lack of confidence.
  2. Read all the questions thoroughly trying to weigh the level of difficulty of each question.
  3.  Divide your time between the questions, giving yourself at least 10 minutes at the end to check your work.
  4.  Start by the easiest questions, then the average ones, to move at the end to the difficult exercises. Being able to solve some exercises boosts your self-confidence and helps you perform better and faster.
  5. If you find yourself stuck on one of the questions, just skip it and immediately move to the next one. Don’t waste your time panicking or over-thinking about something that you just cannot figure out.  Just let go, move on to the next question, and get back to it at the end if time permits.
  6. Have the complete answer in your head before you start writing.
  7. Work with a smile on your face. This will help you relax and feel better about the exam and yourself.
  8. Stay focused, keep controlling your stress and anxiety through positive thinking and breathing exercises, keep track of time without panicking, and try to remain smiling and relaxed.
  9. Most importantly, if for any reason you end up with one or two unsolved exercises, it’s ok to feel sad or disappointed for a little while. But what’s not ok is blaming it on the moon, crying, and ruining your day. Learn to accept flaws, learn from your mistakes, move on, and start preparing for the following exam with a lot of determination and positivity..

Good luck 🙂


Today was funny in a weird way! I had to substitute in grade 1! It was the first time I deal with 5 to 6-year-old kids in large numbers and at the same time!!! It’s true that my kids are almost in the same age, and I’ve experienced most of what I saw today, but the situation was way different, say 15 times more complicated 😀

The fun part of it was sharing nice stories and drawing about them! The kids showed a lot of talent and creativity! Their imagination was so wide, their spirit so pure, and their heart so innocent! All they needed as reward was a high-five, a smiley face, and a “Bravo” or “Amazing” or “Super cool” or the like.

The “weird” part of it sounded like this: “Miss, he pinched me in my arm” “He started, he pinched me first in the butt” ” Noooooo he did it” “Miss miss, tell them; they won’t give me the marker” “He didn’t ask for permission” “I asked but they don’t like me, NOBODY LIKES ME” “because he nags” “No because you are mean” “See why we don’t like him” “Miss miss can I go to the toilet; it’s urgent” “Miss I need to go to the nurse because my tooth will fall soon” “NOISE NOISE stop stop noise noise miss let them stop” “Miss can I write who’s talking on the board” ” I want I want” “Can I draw on the board” “See what I drew” “MIIIIISSSS tell him to stop!!” “Miss tell me, can I write who’s talking on the board” “Tell him to give me the blue marker” “Noise Noise miss tell them to stop” “Can I go to the nurse, he poked me” “He gave my friend a sticker and didn’t give me” “because you poked me” “that’s because you didn’t give me the sticker” “You started” “No you started”….

Well, the fun part of that weird part was that the above was just a part of only ONE conversation involving half of the class 😀

Shahrazad Zare is a 15-year-old Iranian young lady, who never keeps raising the bar for herself. Her determination to improve and succeed is phenomenal, and her beautiful spirit is exceptional. Shahrazad has a lot of talents, among which is drawing. She’s sharing with us today one of her favorites drawn last year. When I asked her about her beautiful drawing she said, “Well, whenever I look at her I see a woman who has done a lot in her life. She has had a lot of experiences; sadness, happiness and of course problems. But she has risen again and left everything behind. I now see a person in a very lofty position of her personality. I’d like to call her ‘Lofty Personality’.

 Enjoy 🙂


    • Chantal Chahine Assaad: I would be a very flattered proud teacher!!! Thanks Elie and welcome home! 😉😊
    • Elie Abd: Today's my first visit to your blog, and by reading this very first post, I feel like I am home already. Few are the bloggers out there that can reall
    • Chantal Chahine Assaad: Thank you Areej! It means the world to me! keep in touch dear <3
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