June 18, 2011 by Willy Cardoso
My English language learning experience was not transformative, critical, task-based, experiential, democratic, dialogic, constructivist, or anything like that. So what? I learned it anyway. Am I a superior being? Of course not! Hundreds did it too, same school, same method. And, yeh, other hundreds didn’t. So… I guess lots of students out there are not learning substantially either through say, a learner-centred approach?
Have you ever failed big time trying to be ‘learner-centred’ ?
I have. Maybe I don’t know how to do it, but then I’ve also been successful with my learner-centredness, many times. So…
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here, exactly. Sorry if you expect a grand conclusion, but no.
Principled ecleticism? – boy, how I dislike this term. For me (so don’t be offended), it’s like saying I don’t have an opinion, but that’s justifiable because I have a principle that supports my not having a position and instead I can have all of them. Okay… it works for many people, but it’s still not what I’m trying to say.
erm… let’s see…
What if a school had like 5 different classes for the same level, age, or however they group students; 5 different teachers, of course, but veeery different; and then students choose what they want, where they want to go. Or first week they have a lesson with each teacher, and then they choose one, after a month they can again decide if they want to keep that one or change to another.
The same way that teachers test students and classify them and judge them good or bad. Students should be able to test their teachers and all.
I think that would be more learned-centred…
until then, it’s still teacher-centred, material-centred, owner-of-the-school-centred.
the centre is where decisions are made, I suppose.
I was talking to a friend the other day, in Sao Paulo, he’s the director of the school I used to work with, they’ve been working on a new course which he told me students are liking a lot (yes, are liking), it’s even a more expensive course focusing on speaking skills and at some point he was telling me that in a certain conversation with a potential client they asked him and what’s the material?, and he answered the material is you! the material comes from you! and my friend was telling me this with a look of yeah, isn’t it awesome! And I was, alright that’s it, man! There ain’t no better way than this, the material is the student, why should it not be? And it’s just weird to me that after years and years in the business of English teaching many people realize that it’s not what you use, not exactly how you do it, but more than anything is who is there, WHO, the teacher, the students, even the administrators, like my friend who make the important decisions and now has been increasingly okay with having courses that have no coursebook, no strict syllabus, and which the most important thing that will determine their success are the people and their materials, the materials that come from them… oh well, or something like that.
I always feel things are too similar. I visit a school, I talk to people, school administrators, teachers, young learners and rarely do I see sparkles in their eyes when they’re talking about going to school. Very often I hear them say the word method, who said methods are dead? or post-method era? Are you kiddin’ me? Yesterday I was asked if I knew a method for bilingual education, for the little ones, a method meaning prescribed syllabus, curriculum, whatever you call it, plus books, booklets, everything the whole package. the whats and hows — and c’mon they forget the whos, who’s gonna be there?
Driving around my hometown I see there’s The street of English schools, about five or six, or more, they’re all there, lined up ‘cos y’know it’s easier for folks to choose one, they just go to one place, walk in and out and choose one. And you know what? they all have methods, their teachers all follow a book of how to teach, regardless of who is in the classroom.
I don’t want to choose from one method over another. I want the option of not having a method at all, is that possible?
I want the option of extrapolating learner-centredness, if such a thing really exists. If it does, for me it would be something like, you walk into the room, you see who is there, and then everything else takes shape.
oh, and the title – it really is hot in here, in the winter, where I am at the moment. That kinda messes up with your thoughts y’know, especially the random ones. See you!