April 25, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
So much has been blogged about IATEFL 2011. Great posts, great reflections, great!
I was going to write about the Dogme Symposium, but then… others are doing it so greatly, that … you know…
Then, I thought about technology – not that techy technology – technology as the scientific method and material used to achieve a commercial or industrial objective. This I suppose it the real meaning of this word, I really want to discuss how teaching is technologized. (interesting, isn’t it?)
But as you see, those were both demanding posts and it’s bank holiday, I’ll deal with them later.
For now I give you something lighter, though equally debatable.
A few times during the conference when I met someone who was presenting and righteously inviting people to come, I asked: Is it a workshop or a talk? Regardless of the answer I’d ask: Is there gonna be pairwork?
Because, you know, a talk is a talk, guess what you do? yeh, you talk – and people listen. And I found out many conference-goers, like me, don’t want to spend even 5 minutes out of 45 talking to the person next to them about something the presenter presumably knows more about.
And honestly, presenters generally don’t really care about your opinion, it’s not that they are going to get what people say in the first 5 minutes and plan the talk/workshop around that, from there. (which would be just great in fact, think about it: an audience-centered workshop for the student-centered advocates, who believe in the co-construction of knowledge – sounds more congruous)
But NO, pairwork culture has pervaded our field and I can’t see why, oh my…
(do you see that forehead on the left corner of the picture? I tried to be nice, I smiled and asked the forehead so, what do you think? but it didn’t want to be my pair in that activity. Not my fault this time)
So, there’s this session titled How to teach using Zrunf and this other one Critical Sbyrt to enhance classroom horfgast.
and they went something like this:
Presenter 1: Welcome everybody, da-di-da-di-da. (…) Talk to the person next to you about how you use Zrunf.
Presenter 2: I’m so glad you’re all here (…) I wrote a book about Critical Sbyrt (…) I have 13 years experience in classroom horfgast. (…) I’ll give you 3 minutes to talk to the person next to you, please, write down your own definition of Sbyrt and horfgast.
Willy: So, what do you think?
Random lad: Erm… I don’t know.
Willy: me neither.
Then they talk for 3 minutes about ‘life’
Willy: tap tap tap (silent – he was smart enough to sit next to nobody and even smarter to bring his iPod, now he can check his Twitter feed until the presenter gets to the point)
Presenters 1 and 2 (in unison): So, any ideas?
Random lad: I think that.. bla-bla-bla.
Presenters: Right, good one. From my experience/research/notes/books/musings/guess these are the three key points of Zrunf/Sbyrt/horfgast.
You see?? WHAT IS THE POINT????
Although conference organizers make it clear that workshops should be interactive (and for that they even allow 1h30!) Little is reinforced when it comes to talks, in fact in the middle of all the acronyms and abbreviations found in small print next or below abstracts, which no-one reads, there should be a PW or non-PW.
I don’t know if this happens in other types of conferences, but I don’t like it.
Do urologists warm up their audience by asking them to talk about their favorite metaphor for prostatic hyperplasia?