59 – the (IATEFL bound) Brighton Line, in UK bingo halls
Moderation in all things! Be free of your own ideas! These are the secrets behind being a successful teacher. And what’s more, says Lao, if you do these things, you will be able to maintain your teaching prowess for a long, long time.
Can we expect such things from our novce teacher, still clutching the CELTA certificate with pride? Lao advises us that it is better that we learn how to do these things right from the start. So, in one way, the answer is “yes”, in another the answer is “no”. Because CELTA and DELTA training courses tend to teach a way that leads away from LELTA or TELTA (Lao’s English Language Teaching for Adults and Tao’s English Language Teaching for Adults). DELTA perhaps detours back to near where Tao runs, perhaps reflecting the alternative spelling: Dao De Jing.
The roots we lay down are what help us withstand the buffeting winds (“More cheese and pineapple on a stick, Zephyr?” “No thanks, Boreas. If I eat anymore, I think I’m going to blow.“) So we need to make sure that we set the roots down in solid ground. It’s been a long time since I did my cert., but it’s not been a long time since I observed cert-qualified teachers. How much has really changed? They are given flawed techniques on the understanding that they will one day reach the level of consciousness of many of their colleagues and reject them. Years later, I find that the argument doesn’t wash: teachers open coursebooks, look at the pages and say, “Oh right, modal verbs. I’ll be OK.”
Why aren’t people sent into classrooms with the right kind of knowledge and the right kind of skills at the start? Simply because, surmise I, giving people a Bluffers Cert in ELT means that initial teacher training can be intensive and lucrative. You can become a cert qualified teacher in a matter of 4 weeks after spending no more than 6 hours in a classroom (and handing over around £1000). Not only that, but two years later, victims can be stung for a further£3000 in exchange for the training that they should have received in the first place.In the UK, state-recognised teachers will learn their trade over a period of a full year and two terms of this year are spent in a classroom. Something is truly rotten in the state of Cambridge. Really rotten. To the point where I can feel anger and disgust building up inside and it is far too early to be feeling like that.