January 22, 2013 by Willy Cardoso
Teaching, in addition to providing opportunities for learners to examine, practice and reflect on language (or subject matters), should also be about finding those opportunities for learners to examine, practice and reflect on learning. Learning as an individual and learning as a group. The implications are manifold; a simple and automatic classroom routine of ‘working in pairs’ for example will acquire a much richer value if teacher and learners are explicitly aware of why they are working in pairs and what kind of learning they can expect from working in pairs; also, what responsibilities they have with each other when working in pairs; and very importantly, learners will also be aware of what the teacher’s responsibility is when they are working in pairs and thus can measure their expectations and performance accordingly. Consequently, through a joint investigation of classroom routines, teacher and learners will be empowered to decide whether what they do and how they do it match their reasons for being there (to teach and to learn), that is, the why of the whole being in a classroom business. The trick is: teacher and learners will only be able to enrich conventionalized, taken-for-granted classroom routines if they talk about them. If, instead, for every lesson teacher and learners just walk in the classroom ‘minding their own business’ and conforming to how things are – things which they haven’t even examined together – the classroom experience will have all the potential to be a wasteful experience. We don’t want that, do we? So we better start talking more about learning with those who are actually doing it – the learners.