August 19, 2010 by Willy Cardoso
At the last BrazTESOL convention, Herbert Puchta made reference to Carl Rogers’ core conditions that facilitate learning to illustrate part of his great plenary on Leadership. My high opinion of both Rogers and Puchta made be swiftly turn my camcorder on as I knew that was something I would like to revisit and possibly write about.
In this specific segment shown below, Puchta talks about how teachers’ congruence can turn into learners’ respect for the teacher. The main point is that in the past teachers were granted respect simply because of their role, and that now they have to work harder to get it (as teachers no longer carry weapons – my words – or so I thought) and that by being genuine and authentic teachers now gain this respect because they really deserve it. I couldn’t agree more with the importance of realness in teaching. However, I consider that in the past it was not respect what students had, according to the definitions I’ll use below, it was fear.
Thanks Herbert Puchta for allowing me to shoot and upload this video!
On the other side of the coin, we have the teacher’s respect for the learner, and that is where I want to make things more complicated.
Let’s take a look at two definitions of the verb to respect and how they can mold our perception of its application in teaching and learning.
- to show regard or consideration for; to hold in esteem. (#1)
- to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with, like in to respect a person’s privacy. (#2)
If a person doesn’t want to learn something, we as teachers have to do our best to understand why, to show how important it is, to give support, encouragement and motivation; by doing that we show that we care. That’s roughly speaking related to respect #1.
Paradoxically, it’s also to bear in mind that we should respect the fact that the person doesn’t want to learn what we want to teach. This kind of respect is very difficult, we never want to admit that what we teach might be irrelevant to our students, and that their motive not to enjoy it may be a simple ‘because it’s boring’. We think it is important, and many times it is indeed, but by pushing it and keeping total control of discipline and of ‘what should be learnt’ aren’t we intruding upon another person’s development and taking away their autonomy and responsibility for their own learning? Isn’t it a lack of respect #2?
Could we ever allow the individual to take full control and responsibility over their learning? Choosing when, how, what, where, with whom and the neglected IF – they’re going to learn.
Over to you.