A “normal” teacherPosted: May 28, 2010
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an unusual situation: academic committee. seven members.
couldn’t help noticing some of the appropriately casual, disinterested expressions. but who can blame them? wouldn’t get far without one, i suppose.
i’m sitting opposite. separated by two rows of desks and gaping emptiness in the middle.
i was listening to myself explaining the reasons why i felt suitable for the post. a thought emerged and floated at the back of my head that i haven’t been in a similar situation since graduation.. seven years ago.
i let the thought dive back and tried to refocus on the question.
my present teaching post..?
explain the unbelievable..
Well, you see, we use no textbooks, have no particular curriculum to cover, apart from a project of one sort or another that is to be completed by the end of each term. The content of each class is decided upon and filled in mostly by the learner and determined by the previous class. We are using the language in a mutually agreed context that can (and unusually does) change from class to class. There’s no homework, but a lot of work that can be done at home, on-line, or in class – either way is fine, as the classes don’t strictly begin or end in the scheduled times, but continue through to any time of day. Or night.
their eyes get disturbingly empty..
..And, there’s no punishment for unexcused absences…
some of their bewildered looks tell stories of two misunderstood worlds.
there was a pause before someone asked another question, a pause that seems to have grown in my mind now to an unusually awkward length:
“Can you see yourself teaching in a more… normal way, instead of this…. peculiar one?”
After the interview, I couldn’t help feeling that I might have been seen as a weird curiosity, with a peculiar style of teaching. I went back to Film School with many thoughts in mind – one of which was that I would probably hate every single day teaching in such constrained environment.
There’s so much to be changed in the world of ELT here. Most institutions still see English teaching and learning as a factory production, where students are lined up and moved on a conveyor belt at an even speed, tampered with, manipulated, taught at, talked at, instructed, filled with knowledge, meaningless homework and rules.. until they’re spat out at the end with a seal of achievement, and lined up on a neatly samey level.
There’s a lot to be changed here indeed.
Incidentally, it’s been over 30 years since The Wall.