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(c) Alexander Sokol, Riga, 2000, contacts@thinking-approach.org

Preliminary Points
How to Choose a Text
Functions of Tasks
Types of Tasks

Texts Samples
Tasks to the Texts
Students’ Works

Students' Responses


1. Translation ( The Full Scheme Model, The Contradiction Model, The Ideality Model, The Resource Model, The Problem Situation Model, The Problem Solution Model)

Kseniya Kalugina (Form 11)


·         He narrowed his eyes in the fierce concentration, held his breath, forced one … single … more … inch … of … curve … Then his feathers ruffled, he stalled and fell. (p.150)


·         Он прищурил глаза и весь обратился в одно единственное желание: вот он задержал дыхание и чуть… чуть-чуть… на один дюйм… увеличил изгиб крыльев.Перья взъерошились, он совсем потерял скорость и упал. (с.7)



I might be wrong, but I guess the meaning of the phrase would be a bit more close to the original if ‘fierce concentration’ were translated not like “единственное желание”, but “неимоверная концентрация”, for example.


My comment 11:

It would. What would be bad about this variant? And how can we resolve the contradiction if it exists here. Does it?


I’m not quite sure about formulating the contradiction, but I guess the solution of the translator was to add some more new epithets. I think the phrase would be quite normal.


My comment 2:

So, what's the variant you're offering?


Он прищурил глаза, предельно сосредоточился, задержал дыхание и на один… еще один… дюйм… увеличил изгиб крыльев. Перья взьерошились, он потерял скорость (выдохся) и упал.


·         Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome. . (p.162)


·         Если мы не научились ничему, следующий мир окажется таким же, как этот, и нам придется снова преодолевать те же преграды с теми же свинцовыми гирями на лапах. (с.19)



If a translator makes a more detailed explanation, it will be easier for a reader to get the point, but the meaning of the phrase will change. (will be less negative and categorical)

Не научиться ничему, и следующий мир будет таким же, как этот, тте же недостатки (ограничения, преграды), та же свинцовая тяжесть.


My comment 1:

Why could the Russian phrase seem unclear in your opinion?


I didn’t mean the Russian phrase is unclear. Moreover, the main point is explained in a very detailed way, too detailed probably. That’s why there’s a difference between the original phrase and the Russian one.


My comment 2:

Well, any variants for resolving the contradiction you formulated? Or it doesn’t exist?


I guess it would be a good solution to make a word-for-word translation in this case.


·         …Then the whole formation rolled slowly to the right, as one bird … level … to … inverted … to … level , the wind whipping over them all. (p.170)


·         Потом, сохраняя строй,  они все вместе медленно накренились вправо … выровнялись… перевернулись вверх лапами… выровнялись, а ветер безжалостно хлестал всех восмерых.” (с.29)




It wasn't the synchronization the translator should emphasize, flying 'as one bird' should have not only physical but also spiritual meaning.


My comment 1:

How can this be changed? Or if it's difficult, formaulate the problem first.


It's actually not such a nad idea to translate the phrase, not ot invent it. That's why it would be useful to make a word-for-word translation.


My comment 2:

Could you make it?


Весь ряд как однв птица медленно нааренился вправо… выровнялся,… перевернулся… выровнялся, а ветер хлестал их всех.


·         Every hour Jonathan was there at the side of each of his students, demonstrating, suggesting, pressuring, guiding. (172)


·         Джонатан ни на минуту не разлучался с учениками, каждому успевал что-то показать, подсказать, каждого подстегнуть и направить. (с.30)



If the author found it useful to emphasize the process by means of Present Continuous, wouldn’t it be logical to do the same in the translation.

Джонатан ни на минуту не разлучался с учениками, показывая, подсказывая, подстегивая и направляя каждого.


My comment 1:

Is the structure used in the original text ‘Present Continuous?’

What would be bad about the variant you offer?


What should be bad about my variant?


My comment 2:

Each variant has both positive and negative consequences. I just asked you to think of negative ones as we often prefer to omit them.


The negative side of the previous variant was that I didn’t mention that Jon was ‘at the side of EACH of his students.’

Improved variant:

Джон ни на минуту не оставлял ни одного из учеников…


Daria Saharova (Form 11)


It seems to me that from all the 19 passages only number 6, 8, 9 and 17 are not poor translations, because here the translator  did not just give us some denotative meanings of several words and then put them together, but managed to show some connotative meanings, too. So, the problem the translator did not solve in every other example is rendering the connotative part of the meaning. “The real power of the linguistic languages lies not with their denotative ability but in the connotative aspect of language: the wealth of meanings we can attach to a word that surpasses its denotation.”


·         To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all. (p.150)


·         Невыдуманному Джонатану-Чайке, который живет в каждом из нас. (с.6)



‘Jonathan Seagull’ who was translated as “Джонатан-Чайка” surprised and shocked me. I’d better say “Чайка по имени Джонатан” as long as Seagull isn’t his surname but just a sign that he belongs to seagulls.


·         It wasn’t long before Jonathan Gull was off by himself again, far out at sea, hungry, happy, learning. (p.152)


·         И вот Джонатан снова один далеко в море – голодный, радостный, пытливый. (с.9)



The word ‘learning’ in this particular case means, I guess, that Jonathan is learning at the very moment, so it could be translated as  жаждущий или стремящейся получить знания.

The stylistic characteristic of the word “пытливый” does not let us use it in this sentence.


·         Jonathan kept at it, fiercely, day after day, from before sunrise till past midnight. (p.164)


·         Джонатан тренировался упорно, ожесточенно, день за днем, с восхода солнца до полуночи. (с.21)



‘From before the sunrise till past midnight’ – ‘From sunrise till midnight’. Does the translator see no difference? I’d make it sound like «…тренировался упорно, день за днем, начиная до рассвета и заканчивая после полуночи.»



Steps (The Problem Situation Model, The Contradiction Model, The TRTL Model)


Task. Let us consider Jonathan as an example of creative personality. To every step he takes, there is a reaction of external circumstances.

Make a list of Jonathan’s steps and mention the reaction they caused. Point out a problem which arose in each case. Formulate a contradiction if possible.


Daria Saharova (Form 11)


Jonathan’s step

Reaction of External Circumstances


Jon spends most of his time flying.

His parents are dismayed.


Jon returns to his trainings

Wind is too fast, he almost died.

How to learn not to lose control?

He must hold his wings still, because  stream of wind may hurt them, and he must flap his wings very hard to increase a speed.

Jon goes on working on speed despite negative reaction of the flock.


He should tell them about the discoveries he made but it’s impossible as nobody will speak to an outcast.

Jon starts living in the new world.

Everybody is working on speed here.

How to get to a higher level?

He must think of space and time as this has always been something he has done when he practiced flying, and he should not as space and flight are meaningless on the next level.

He acquired the flight of thoughts.

Everybody admires him.

How not to stop developing?

Jon wants to go back to Earth to teach the Flock.

He should go back home because there may be gulls who need him there, and he should not as he has students here, too.

He should return to Earth as there are the brothers he left, and he should not as ‘brotherhood was broken’.

Jon finds Fletcher and then others students-outcasts.

His students do not understand the essence of flight, its highest purpose.

How to make them understand?

He must explain to them the essence of flight as it’s pointless to teach them otherwise, but he should not explain it as they must grasp it themselves.

Jon wants to fly back to the Flock.

His students are afraid.

How to make them lose their fear?

He should convince them to go back to the Flock as it’s necessary to have more students, but he does not want to press on them as going back should be their own decision.

Jon wants to attract gulls from the Flock.

The Elder called the Flock to ignore Jon and his students.

Jon must start teaching gulls from the Flock to have new students, but he cannot as no gull dares to break the word of the Elder.



Kseniya Kalugina (Form 11)


Jonathan’s step

Reaction of External Circumstances


Jon spends all his time learning to fly.

Jon’s parents are dismayed.

If Jon spends all his time learning to fly, then he gets pleasure discovering something new, but he has a conflict with his parents.

Jon goes on spending his time on mastering flying.

The Flock is angry.

If Jon keeps on spending his time on learning to fly, then he does what he most wants to do, but the Flock will not be satisfied with his behaviour.  

Jon ignores the Flock’s reaction.


If Jon tried to protect himself, then he has a chance to explain his behaviour, but he will act against the rules of the flock.

Jon teaches his students to fly. (part 3)

Students do not understand the essence of flight.

If Jon preaches the ‘unlimited idea of freedom’, then he performs his mission, but his students don’t understand him, don’t get the point of the doctrine.

Jon decides to fly back the flock.

His students are afraid to fly to the Flock which made them outcasts.

If Jon flies to the flock, he will perform his mission, but he cannot be sure that the students will join him.

Coming to the flock.

Possible negative reaction of the Elder, and thus the Flock.

If they return to the flock, they will most probably have a conflict with the Elder, but they will have more chances to make other gulls interested in the way the fly.  

Jon manages to attract new students.

“The crowed grew larger every day…”

If Jon manages to attract many students, then his mission is successful, but he can’t teach all of them.


Essay (Ability to ‘redefine oneself’, use books as a source of additional experience)


Task. Write an essay entitled ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull – an irresponsible member of society or an image to strive for?’

Kseniya Kalugina (Form 11)


I am going neither blame nor admire.

It is nice of course that Jonathan tried to overcome the ignorance of the Flock, to break the stereotypes, to achieve his aim, to do what he wanted to do. A symbol of freedom for the modern society – fighting, striving, free! Isn’t he?

But don’t you think that breaking a wall with one’s head isn’t the best way to go through it? There’s such an invention called a door as far as I remember, which makes the process a bit less painful.

However, a poor little bird wasn’t smart and experienced enough and had no idea of such a wonderful thing as formulating a problem and ideal final result. Moreover, he wasn’t even striving to find a compromise.

Briefly the point is that one should obey the Holy Laws of society and do what one wants to do at the same time. Need a contradiction?


Daria Saharova (Form 11)


Both. I don’t think we could say that someone’s point of view is better or worse: there’s no good and no bad, it depends. For someone the words “… there’s a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free!” are closer. Someone else may think that ‘the reason you fly is to eat’. I guess there will always be people who won’t be sorry for the price that they will pay, people who won’t be happy to live just as another cow in the crowd of milliards; people who won’t see any borders and limits.

Jon says that ‘your whole body is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.” He says that ‘we are free to go where we wish and to be what we are”, that we “have freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”. Doesn’t it sound very pleasant, doesn’t it  reach your brain, your heart?

There is one more quotation I like, “You know nothing till you prove it!” It often happens when people say ‘I can’t do it. I can’t do that. I can’t be free!’ Who said it? I ask you who said you cannot when you have never tried it. Never tried to prove it!!!

On the other hand, are the flock’s members not right? There were rules which Jon broke, there were traditions which Jon broke, there was dignity… And who should have known he’s right? Maybe he was not. What could be if everybody did everything they wanted? Life in the world with no conditions, no limits – I’m not pretty sure everybody would have a high goal because they would mostly think about themselves only. Anarchy doesn't lead to paradise!!! Nobody said we are the highest creatures. We have an animal’s nature so maybe the Flock’s right and ‘we are put into this world to eat, to stay alive as long as we possible can’. Who was speaking about ‘the highest purpose for life’?

I am completely lost.   

1 - Comments are provided here to demonstrate how the original task can be developed with a particular student. It is very important that students go on working upon their tasks after they hand them in for the first time. Here is where learning takes place. Students make progress in comparison with themselves. Compare here Kseniya’s first idea with her last variant. 





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21 Nov 2000