Competing With Giants: An Open Letter for Carlos Esteban Rubilar Soto

Carlos Esteban Rubilar Soto

Estimados Colegas: Creo que este grupo ( English Winter Retreat, Viña del mar 2012 ) tuvo una muy buena intensión al ser creado, cumplió su objetivo en un principio que era compartir información, materiales y experiencias, pero de un tiempo acá, con todo respeto lo digo, me he aburrido de recibir notificaciones del señor Thomas Baker con enlaces a su página donde hace publicidad de su libro. Por la misma razón me retiro del grupo, ya que se convirtió en otra cosa. Saludos a todos y disculpen si alguien se siente ofendido, pero es mi humilde opinión. Bye!


Translation: (Carlos) “I don’t want to participate in the group anymore because I don’t want to receive notices in which Thomas Baker includes book promotions.”


Response for Carlos from Thomas:

Hi Carlos. Firstly, I’m not offended. However, I want to be clear on that point, because if we can’t get past that point, then nothing that I am about to write will mean anything.

So, here’s the deal: I don’t know you, and I know you don’t know me, so that should be enough to establish that your words were not meant as a personal offense to me.

That’s why I’m not offended by your words, because it is an impossibility that you meant to attack me personally.

You must also understand that my response to your words is meant for you, but it is not about you. You would be mistaken to believe that I have any desire to impact you in any kind of personal way.

OK, we now have a clear, non-personal frame of reference. Let’s turn to your actual words, and deal with them. Keep in mind, Carlos, that this is not about you.

To begin, I entitled this post: “Competing With Giants“.

Carlos, I do not refer to you. You are not the giant I compete with.

The “giant” I refer to, and compete with, are other authors. Some authors are dead, yes, writers whose lives have ended, in some cases, centuries ago.

Yet they continue to sell books. You might know some of these writers. They have names like:

Shakespeare, Cervantes, Hemingway, Dickens, Voltaire, George Bernard Shaw, Henrik Ibsen, Dylan Thomas, Louisa May Alcott, Hans Christian Andersen, Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Thomas Hobbes, Washington Irving, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, H. G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, John Steinbeck, and countless others whose names continue to live on in their great literary works.

Carlos, as if those giants and others like them were not making it difficult for a man like me, relatively unknown (Thomas Jerome Baker) and living in a country at the end of the world (Chile), there are literally millions of authors who are alive and well, writing every day, with the intention of telling a good story.

I won’t even bother to name any names, because by now I’m sure you’ve got my point. The competition I deal with makes it a minor miracle when I am able to sell a book. As a matter of fact, most writers have other jobs.

I’m no different Carlos. I’ve got a wonderful job that I also believe is the best job on the planet. No, I mean the whole universe, and I’m serious.

My job is my life, and it is my love, my most profound love. I love what I do so much that I actually sit down at my PC and take the time to write about it. And then I share it with anyone who might possibly benefit from my materials, my experience, or my story.

I write about what I do, so that one day, when I am long gone, like all the other authors I mentioned above, when my bones are nothing but dust in the wind, the books I have written will remain to give testimony to the way in which I have done the job that is both my life and my true love.

What’s my job?

I’m a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, and I work in the most beautiful country on Earth.

Yes, I’m talking about Chile, your country, Carlos, and your profession, as you are also a teacher of English as a Foreign Language.

I write from my experience and I write from my heart.

I share my experience, I share my integration of theory and practice, a practice which gives me a sense of joy in being a teacher, every single day of my life.

I share my work Carlos. Recently, I made four books (4) completely free ($0.00) for a total of five days. For five days (5) you had the possibility to have experience, knowledge, materials – for nothing.

Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Eight (2,548) people downloaded my four books for free Carlos. They paid no price, no cost, and if they didn’t like the books, they lost nothing, not a penny, not a peso.


Carlos, would you believe that I even donate the funds to charity for some books? Trust me, it’s true.

<a href="Amy Winehouse: Angel Song “>Amy Winehouse: Angel Song is a book I wrote the day Amy Winehouse died. All of the money for the book goes to the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help young people with addictions. The only problem is that addiction is not a very popular charity, and I rarely sell a book about Amy Winehouse. In fact, I’ve sold vewry few books about <a href="Amy Winehouse: Angel Song “>Amy Winehouse.

It’s a pity when you consider that most of us know someone who needs help with alcohol and drug addiction. We don’t have to look far to find cases of young people who need help. But society seems to think that people who have problems with drugs and alcohol caused their own problems, and society does not help very much to provide treatment, counseling, therapy, and long-term follow-up care. Again, it’s a pity, don’t you agree Carlos?

My favourite charity, Carlos, is EdCamp Santiago. EdCamp Santiago is free professional development. No cost, no fee, completely, totally, absolutely, free.

EdCamp Santiago is teachers who share their successful practice, successful experience, successful materials, collaborate and cooperate with other teachers.

But Carlos, “free” is not really free.

Whenever you get something for free, it means somebody else paid for you. Whenever you get a free book, a free gift, free materials, then be aware that someone else has sacrificed for your benefit.

Let me list the books for you that all the funds from the sale of the book-100%- all of the funds are donated and used to help pay for EdCamp Santiago, so that teachers like you and I can have free, no cost, no fee, no pay, free professional development:

<a href="EdCamp Santiago: A R(E)volution in Professional Development (Volume 1) “>EdCamp Santiago: A R(E)volution in Professional Development

<a href="La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago (Volume 2) “>La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago

<a href="EdCamp Santiago: The First Seven Days “>EdCamp Santiago: The First Seven Days [Kindle Edition]

<a href="Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher “>Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Paperback]

<a href="Chile: ¿Un Pais Bilingue?: Un Sueno Posible “>Chile: ¿Un Pais Bilingue?: Un Sueno Posible [Paperback]

All of these books, Carlos, help to provide funds to pay for a “free” $0.00, no cost professional development opportunity for teachers.

I mean all teachers, not just teachers of English as a Foreign Language. I’m talking about math, history, science, physical education, biology, music, any teacher who wants to share their best practices with their colleagues is welcome.

You see, it is very important for teachers to work in a interdisciplinary fashion.

We are better when we work together. We must refuse to be isolated in a world that is more and more interdependent, and thus dependent on teachers in all disciplines working together to improve the quality and the equity of education.

Allow me to summarise.

My books are about my life, my love of being a teacher, and a desire to do something to help improve education. That’s number one, and it always comes first.

I share.

I share knowledge and experience.

I try to help make the world a better place.

I try to help people who need help, by using the talents and skills that I have.

According to your words, Carlos, I have failed.

I would like to hope that you are wrong, that I have not failed to help make the world a better place, though I have obviously failed to inspire you.

I am by no means a Mother Teresa, yet still, I would like to ultimately measure success or failure, not in terms of who I could not help, but in terms of those who I could help.

Carlos, I apologise to you, for failing you, and as a consequence, I have withdrawn completely from your Facebook group, English Winter Retreat, Viña del mar 2012. I repeat, I have no further connection of any sort with your group.

That means your group is now a place in which you can share your experiences, information, and materials, in the way that you feel is best for your interests.

But before I stopped being a member of your group, I checked to see how much you had participated in the past. I wanted to see how much information, materials, and experiences you had shared with the group Carlos.

I wanted to know how much had the others benefitted from your participation, rather than how much you had benefitted.

I noticed that you had never shared any information, never shared any experiences of what activities and teaching methods you use with your students, and never shared any materials with the group.

I’m talking about from Day 1, not yesterday. I went all the way back to the very first beginning of the group, all the way through the archives to Day 1, the birth of the group.

And I found nothing from you Carlos. Nothing that might be called experience, information, or materials. There was not even a link to a Youtube video. You had shared nothing.

So, I want to encourage you to understand that sharing means that you not only take from the group, but that you give something back to the group.

Tell a story, share a link to a video, upload your materials so the group can use it, ask somebody for help, offer advice and encouragement to the members of the group, do something.

The group is not about how much you can benefit from the group, but how much you can give to the group.

Finally, I welcome you to visit my website from time to time. You are welcome, today, tomorrow, anytime.

You are my colleague, a teacher, and we both share the greatest profession on Earth, teaching.

Being a teacher is a profound bond of brotherhood that can never be broken, regardless of whatever storm may darken the day, no matter how often we may lose our way.

But as they say, joy comes in the morning.

Our joy is the belief that we can indeed achieve great and wonderful things, for we are powerful beyond belief.

May God bless you and keep you, dear Carlos,

Thomas Jerome Baker

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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