October 26, 2010 by Willy Cardoso
This is the 3rd round of the Dogme Blog Challenge.
The quote by Meddings & Thornbury this time is:
The teacher’s primary function, apart from promoting the kind of classroom dynamic conducive to a dialogic and emergent pedagogy is to optimize language learning affordances, by directing attention to features of the emergent language; learning can be mediated through talk, especially talk that is shaped and supported (i.e. scaffolded) by the teacher.
I don’t have anything to say about scaffolding at the moment. Below you’ll find links to other bloggers who wrote about it, great posts by the way.
I’d like to talk about, or to think about, affordances. For that I’ll use two short extracts from my favorite book (and the only one) on two of my favorite subjects, Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics.
An affordance is an opportunity for use or interaction presented by some object or state of affairs to an agent. For example, to a human being, a chair affords sitting, but to a woodpecker it may afford something quite different (Clark 1997:172), just as a hole in a tree is an affordance for a woodpecker, but not for a sparrow.
What if language learning tasks are seen, not as providing input, which then migrates piecemeal to inside the learner’s head, but instead as providing affordances (van Lier 2000)? From the latter perspective, learning is construed as ‘the development of increasingly effective ways of dealing with the world and its mearnings’ (van Lier 2000:246).
Here we are talking about the primary role of the teacher being that of provider of opportunities for use and interaction that will equip learners with ‘ways’ of dealing with the world and its meanings.
If we take this last sentence as a positive view of what it is to teach, we may well realize we’d better ditch our coursebooks and tests, bestow our brick-and-mortar classrooms on the homeless, and start looking for more real affordances for learners to experience and experiment with the world and its meanings.
What do you think?
Bloggers in the 3rd ring:
Mike Harrison - How do you scaffold?
David Warr – For those who know…
Nick Jaworski - Dogme in the mind of a Teacher
Henrick Oprea - Scaffolding
Sabrina de Vita - Dogme with Young Learners
Cecilia Coelho – Scaffolding, Maps and Possible Routes