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SITE OF THE DAY - HUNDREDS OF THE "BEST" - Teaching Recipes

Started by ddeubel in Websites / links / access to new resources / communities.. Last reply by Nadeem Nawaz Jul 16. 102 Replies

We are now in our 3rd edition of "Site of the Day"! Hundreds of the best sites for teaching/learning. See #1 and…Continue

Tags: collection, list, web 2.0, resources, websites

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by Amelia Meirizka Jun 20. 73 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread and butter.Got any good ideas for teaching it or using it…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Learning Designs

Started by Elise in Teaching and Methodology Mar 27. 0 Replies

I was wondering what you all thought of learning designs pertaining to English language teaching? What are the ways in which you design your lessons to achieve better learning in your students?Continue

A NEW way to teach PHRASAL VERBS so that your students understand and remember them

Started by Andromeda Jones in Teaching and Methodology Dec 31, 2018. 0 Replies

Phrasal verbs are a verb + preposition, adverb or particle. Teaching…Continue

Tags: prepositions, teach, verbs, phrasal

About

Swiftian Common Sense - Fire all English Teachers!

The following really is "common sense" but it might shock you. So be forewarned. What follows might tug at your very nature and deep ingrained notions of who you are and what you do / teach.

I propose that the best way to get students to learn English is to fire all teachers.

Yeah, you heard me right - fire all English (as a language) teachers. Or, in order to make the transition easier, phase in the layoffs and shift those with usable talents elsewhere. Soften the blow with a nice desk job for a period of time while they get used to the fact that they are NOT needed for students to "learn" to speak English.

Now first let me say that as a teacher trainer, a teacher cheerleader, a person who helps teachers "teach" -- you might have a point if you think I've lost it and am off my rocker. I'll accept that but I assure you that this is not the case. I am fully sane and it is only these experiences that has made me realize the absurdity of my efforts and the futility of my job. It is only by going deep into what and why I do (teach) that I've come upon this common sense. You don't need a teacher to learn English and in fact, most teachers contribute significantly to their students "not" learning English very well or quickly. So please - I'm alive serious about all this. This is my confession.

Why is it better to have no teachers?

Well, this would require a book or a lot of time. Or if time isn't available, money and a book contract. However, since I've started, I'll try and shed some dim light on the common sense of not having a teacher around and letting our students learn language as it should be learned - by, in and of their own volition, need and talents.

Language you see - is not a traditional bricks and mortar subject. It is "of us" and not something we build on nor a kind of knowledge. We "think with" language - it is pretty hard to "think of" language. We are too biased - as that old Hasidic phrase goes - "the eye cannot see itself". It is something we do, it is something we practice, it is something we experience but it is NOT something of which any qualitative terms can be applied. If you know English, you are not a great English speaker but rather a grammarian, a lexicographer, a linguist or even may I say, a poet. Not a teacher!

In traditional teaching, a teacher "knows" and shares with those that don't know. Helps them, leads them, organizes them toward the knowing goal. However, language is not about "knowing" (though with tests, certificates, scales we've tried to make this round peg fit. What the heck are we doing? A teacher might be "better" at English, true. But this doesn't give them any right to teach. I might be a better painter than another but would that make me a better teacher -- most likely not. No native speaker ever studied his/her subject and they have no entitlement to be a "knower" nor a "teacher". There is a pretense about their actions, a baby sitting sense about what they do. Let's get through the day and get on with the charade, they say. It is all Sysiphian, a boulder that goes no where - a perpetual motion machine that only spins in one place.

Next point. Motivation.

We learn a language from need. Now I agree that need can be false and could be simply the need to get a passing mark. However, marks could be given without a teacher. It isn't that difficult. Once a semester, student take a test and are assessed. If they've made progress - they get an appropriate grade. Hire a few pencil pushers - you don't need teachers. Further, without teachers, the students would have no fall back plan, no one to blame but themselves. Built in motivation! Further, further, language is learned in the REAL WORLD -- so let's get real and allow students to stop wasting their time in our classes and get outside (or in language labs or on the computer) and learn where they can really acquire language - on the street of functional language use.

So I hope you are following my argument. I promise you I will stop soon and you can then pause from grinding your teeth and save on your dentist bills.....

Let's talk money!!!! Yes, teachers cost exorbitant amounts of money (and let me say here - this "common sense" is only directed at teachers in the public sphere - if students want to agree with Barnum, they are welcome to go spend their $$$ on a teacher). Teachers are a horrible drain on the public purse. Let's give that money to students who could travel to foreign lands and order pizza in REAL English, talk at the pub in REAL English and learn English as it is meant to be learned - by practicing it with real people and not in some fantasy setting. And yes, if they don't want to spend it on that - their perogative. Maybe by buying an ipad they'll also learn some English?

I haven't yet begun to address all the negative effects of teachers in the classroom - I'll leave that for another post. I'm sure you are upset enough already.

So let me conclude. Let's fire teachers, let's layoff the riff raff that pretends to have some kind of "secret knowledge" . The ruse is up. Let the students teach themselves. Give 'em a mark + or - and that be that. We'd save a lot of pencils and a lot of boring, repetitive, going through the motions, dehumanizing experiences......

Even better if teachers do the honorable thing and quit. You first.

Downloads: 131


Supporter
Comment by csagel on May 13, 2010 at 2:24am
Nice post David.
But why stop with English teachers?

I am reminded of a question that Meno asked Socrates:
"And how will you inquire into a thing when you are wholly ignorant of what it is? Even if you happen to bump right into it, how will you know it is the thing you didn't know?" (80d1-4).

Supporter
Comment by ddeubel on May 13, 2010 at 4:06am
Very wise! I'll have to think through that and see where it takes me.

And you are right, why stop there? I think more and more, education has become about "credentials" and "face" not what you know. I will have to dig up an old Henry Miller essay on this same point - about "self-education" and how it gets so little currency in our world but indeed it is the real gold!

Lots of great comments on this post, on the public blog (I post everything here first but then post some publicly, to keep a presence for that part of the teaching community that gets snotty about joining EFL Classroom....). Not many people got my allusions to Jonathan "Swift" nor "common sense" and other hints of satire I gave... but as always, a core of truth to the satire.

Supporter
Comment by ddeubel on May 13, 2010 at 2:44pm
I think this amazing teenager is saying the same thing as I am!!! Great video and thought I'd store here...


Supporter
Comment by csagel on May 14, 2010 at 2:16am
Happy Teacher's Day, even if we are all yahoos. Houyhnhnms are not extinct.^^

Supporter
Comment by Roselink on May 15, 2010 at 11:06am
Wow, that "education child" did certainly learn a few words during his learning period at school. Congrats to his English teachers, they did a great job after all and despite all things considered. I remember having felt more or less the same when I was a teenage student, some hundred years ago. It helps me not to forget when marking and grading my own students now.
I'd love to have the transcription. Is that possible? Is there any way or application that can turn voice into written text in a video like this? Well, there should be a free of charge one, I wish there was one.

Thanks 4 sharing!

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