Mojca Hergouth Koletič – a teacher and the executive manager of Mint International House Ljubljana
What is the motivation behind your work? (your environment, new challenges, other people, money…)?
I find my motivation within, above all, because my work makes me happy. When I was still teaching, it was a pleasure to see the immediate effects of my work – satisfied students, who were frequently leaving the classes in a better mood than they were in earlier, when they arrived.
Gradually, as the manager of the Mint private language school, I saw my mission primarily in fowarding my pedagogical knowledge to younger generations ofteachers, growing and developing in our midst professionally as well as personally.
It seemed a logical next step for our school to join the international group of language schools by the name of International House. The International House was the first initiator of standardising education for teachers and also started organising some of the most excellent courses for teachers. CELTA courses (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) , for example, started in the middle of the 1980`s under the wing of the Cambridge University. At Mint International House we have acquired a licence to organise Celta courses in Slovenia.
Constant improvement and curiosity how to do things better, how to provide our teachers with internationally acclaimed qualifications are the driving force behind my work – naturally a recognition and appreciation on the part of our listeners boosts my enthusiasm as well … The revenues also depend on all that, but in our line of business they are not so high as to be the sole motivator behind the work – success comes with enthusiasm, fulfilment, dedication and the commitment to significantly raise the level of quality in Slovenian language teaching.
What circumstances trigger the birth of your ideas? When do you get your inspiration?
There is no simple answer to this question. Ideas come to my mind in very different ways. A couple of times I had a breakthrough at a time of »crisis«, when things weren`t going well and I was thinking intensely what we can or must change. Sometimes I get an idea having a conversation with my friends and getting another point of view. Often I try to view the problem from the teachers` or students` perspective or even from the perspective of our clients` human resources departments and as I imagine what their wishes are, the answer to the problem becomes patently obvious. Most ideas are born suddenly, for example, while I am preparing a family lunch (if that happens, we start to eat lunch a bit later, though)
What is your first step after an idea is born? Do you think there is a right moment for being creative? Do you think you can be more successful if you catch that moment?
I write my ideas down, then I think about how to implement them – I often talk about this with my co-workers, because I believe in team work.
In any case it is hard to define the right moment for being creative. Sometimes a text just doesn’t want to write itself, but there comes a moment when everything becomes really easy. It usually happens when the final deadline is approachig, when something has to happen – this is something I don’t really like, but I think this is the natural consequence of the era we are living in, everything is always happening so fast and we are always chasing deadlines.
When I think of needing an inspiration to do something, I think of A. A. Milne, a famous author of the books about Pooh, the teddy bear, who wrote in his biography that in hope for inspiration he went for walks, had a nap after lunch and so on, but nothing helped – he realised eventually that the only thing that really helps is to sit down and write.
I also believe in the maxim, that (almost) nothing happens by itself – you have to get to work and do it.
Do you think that there is a long and winding road from coming acrosss an idea to implementing it?
It depends. If the implementation does not depend on lots of external factors, then a lot can happen in our school in a very short time. Otherwise it takes a little bit longer, but we always try to do our work fast and efffectively.
Do you ever discard any of your ideas? When do you do that? How do you feel, if that happens?
Of course, if I realize that it`s pointless to stick to it or if the outcome is uncertain, its implementation too risky, financially speaking, then I know how to withdraw and redirect my energy into something new. My feelings at such a time are not the most positive ones – I am asking myself what went wrong, why didn`t we find a way to go through with it, some of the »if`s« remain, but they soon fade away when we are in the middle of a new project, which requires my complete attention.
How do you feel when you carry out any of the new ideas?
Very good and this always occasions new ideas.
A day is long, different people find a special meaning and sense in every part of it. In which part of the day are you most productive, creative?
It has always been in the evening, at night even, when everything is calm and quiet, and my thoughts start to fly.
Is it possible to distinguish between a woman’s and a man’s creativity?
Is it possible to distinguish uniquely feminine creativity components?
I think that such a division is not generally possible. In my experience women tend to find sense faster, the ideas what to create and what to use while creating spring to their mind faster – maybe it comes from the ancient times and from the division of work; women took care of home, family, men were hunters. At home there were absolutely more opportunities to be creative –cooking can be a truly creative adventure. Of course these days the social roles are more equally divided, expecially if both parents are working.
I think that women hardly possess specific, only feminine, components of creativity, in any case some creative components are closer to one gender, some to the other and mostly this is culturally – historically related.
To what extent does social environment influence creativity? (division of housework; taking care of upbringing and education...)
A lot, definitely. I think that in most families where parents lack university education the traditional (non – ) division of housework still prevails, less attention is paid to upbringing and education– but of course, fortunately, this isn`t always the case. I think that more and more adults, whose parents didn’t support and help them to acquire proper education when they were children, are aware now how important education is, if you want a better life. If only there were more people like that!
A woman’s and a man`s creativity in the world as oppose to Slovenia?
I think that the situation in Slovenia compared to the one in the world is not that bad – of course it is important which part of the world we are comparing ourselves to. But if we look at the European region, women in Slovenia are heading in the right direction and are in many ways more independent than other »Western European« women.There is still not enough women politicians and managers in Slovenia. This means that in some way women haven`t begun to trust themselves enough, because obviously women in Slovenia still mostly vote men – women could do a lot on their own to become more active in politics and economy. On the other hand, I think that women in Slovenia have good chances of becoming successful, to be creative and to make a name for themselves – maybe my opinion is based on the situation in my line of business, which is education, education being a very feminised profession in Slovenia, but I never had a feeling that men are trying to hold us back, on the contrary, I would often like a better balance of genders in the teachers’ staff room.
How to balance a relationship, family and business life?
I admit, it is not easy. Both me and my husband working in the family company, I often wish that one of us would have a job with a more steady or at least with a more predictable working schedule (Do this kind of jobs still exist?). And because I always have some work to do, I have realised that everything is actually in my head and that it is just a matter of my decision to leave the office at 4pm or 5pm and dedicate my time to our girls, who are 6 and 10 years old, and still want us to be around – I am aware that they will grow up quickly, and that I won`t be able to turn back the clock. Because I decided to be a mum relatively late, I would like to be really good at the most important role in my life – to set a good example for Veronika and Karolina, so that they grow up to be independent, creative and smart girls, who will enjoy life in all its dimensions and possibilities and who will know how to use their potentials in a right way to achieve happiness.
Of course it is also important to know how to nourish a relationship, since only happy and content parents can create a suitable environment for a healthy development of their children.
Does the quality of the space where you come across your ideas matter?
Absolutely. I have to consider the place appropriate, but most of all I have to feel well there and it has to be tidy. I don’t function well in a mess.
What triggers your creativity?
After a good night`s sleep my thoughts always clear up and I feel the creative restlessness again that leads to creative work.