Home > WTF?!? > Hands off!

Hands off!

This is what I was trying to say when I paraphrased THREE.

Language teaching can be plagued by gurus. On the big pond level, these might be the Chomskys, the Pinkers, the Krashens. On a(n arguably) smaller pond level, the Thornburys, the Harmers, the Swans. Because they take a position, people take positions behind them. The world becomes full of disagreements and because we live in a very adversarial culture, not many people listen to others with the intention of putting their own beliefs to the test. Division results in people become more firmly entrenched.

Some people in language teaching argue for a middle path that they give the rather over-inflated name of principled eclecticism. This is just a high falutin’ term meaning, “pick the best bits”. But this isn’t necessary either. Because to cherry pick, you have to have a cherry tree. And the cherry trees are the divided experts and their teachings.

If, on the other hand, you were to just do what seemed to work for you, you wouldn’t need to worry too much about competing theories about language acquisition, the role of technology in the classroom, skills versus grammar, lexical approaches or whathaveyou. And you’d probably be quite content. And confident. And successful. Sure…sometimes you might not know what works well. But all you have to do is to ask for advice and then use your own judgement about what sounds most feasible. You don’t need experts pontificating about what works well or not.

And the same applies to your students. You can stop giving them goals and objectives. They know how to be, they know how to interact, they know how to live. But they might not have been, interacted or lived quite as much as you. So, you can share your experience and help them do these things better. If they were to concentrate on just being in another language and were saved from the curse of grammatical terminology or culturally-bound rhetoric, perhaps it would all be a lot less intimidating?

As I’ve already said, leaving things to work themselves out means that they will always work themselves out. The problem is that we are often dissatisfied with the way they turn out (although given the causes and conditions that led up to them, they could never have worked out any differently). Zen teachings suggest that everything is, by definition, perfect just as it is. You might not like the message, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true!


Categories: WTF?!?
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: