Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Being contrary has become so much a part of me that it is both instinctive and predictive. By contrary I don't necessarily mean being disagreeable, but rather always wanting to look at things from the opposite of the way way most would.

By way of example, tonight I finished a class in ESL teaching methods. Generally speaking we studied one way or method of teaching each week and tonight we gave presentations (either visual/poster or written) giving our reflections and impressions of what we had learned.

Of all the methods we studied, the one which most captured my attention in reading about it was the one called the Silent Way. In true contrary fashion, Silent Way advocates refuse to use the term "method". The keys principles of the Silent Way are the use of silence to encourage student initiative and having the teacher concentrate on observing the students rather than leading. I think I was the only student in our class who felt that this was truly interesting. It just appeared too counter-intuitive to most I think.

I think the use of silence as a pedagogical technique is disturbing to americans so used to "multi" media. We are not accustomed to reflection, to self-initiative, or to silence, especially in a classroom.

One other oddity I noticed in class had to do with a method known as CLL. This now stand for Community Language Learning, but apparently the initial initial once stood for "counseling". The idea here is that language learning is a problem faced by, particularly, the adult immigrant, and the teacher can play the role of counselor in help the student through this problem. One of the interesting techniques associated with this method is having the teacher stand behind the students, to be in more of a helping position rather than in front. The idea is to avoid being intimidating.

Regarding this method I heard at least two of my classmates say that they felt very uncomfortable with the idea of "counseling" anyone, that peoples problems were their own business. One tonight said "I have enough of my own problems." This strikes me as a very strange attitude for a potential teacher. It reminds me of Stan Hauerwas' comments about people who refuse to teache morals to their own children, preferring to let them "make up their own minds". The term he uses for this attitude is moral cowardice.

Just a few thoughts I wanted to get down upon reflection from this class.

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