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It’s too difficult…..

We have just had a British Council inspection.

We are a Business English Centre.

We only do dogme teaching.

The inspectors told me – almost wagging their fingers at me and tut-tutting –  that what I ask my teachers to do is “very difficult” (quote).

On the other hand, we have a student who is here for 7 weeks – too long for the kind of course we offer. She is fairly lazy (her own admission) and won’t co-operate. (She needs to do some preparation for her lessons.) I hauled out all the elementary and pre-inter course books stashed in our resource room and told the teacher to use them. “How?” she said to me, looking bemused and perplexed. Honestly? I don’t know.

I have just read Patrick Jackson’s “Dogme and me. Or me and my dog” post and Karenne Sylvester’s 8th Dogme Challenge.  And reacting to both seems so difficult. Why is it all so difficult?

Yes, my teachers are asked to do what might appear to be difficult to an outsider and what might have been difficult for them to do initially, but they do it now without demur and love it and get all tense and fidgety if asked to do it any other way.

Yes, going on a trip to London with any number of children/young learners/teenagers is difficult. It’s a nightmare in fact and I admire anyone who does it. (I certainly wouldn’t, not without substantial recompense, which is pie in the sky in the teaching world, as we are all too aware.)

And yes, teaching enormous classes and exam classes and ESP and pre-experience University classes or whatever else it is that we are asked to do IS DIFFICULT! Teaching is a tough job. It is tough for a whole swathe of reasons that I/we all know very well. But that does not stop us doing it.

Everything we do for the first time is hard. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to do it.

We know that practice is the best possible way of getting better at something. Well that’s what we tell our students anyway.

We  – well most of us – say we like the challenge of doing something new, but I think we really need to ask ourselves if that is true. How many of us churn out the same old cliche lessons week after week after week? Why? Because doing it differently, or thinking of a new angle is difficult.

Here’s my challenge – do it differently. After all it’s what we ask our students to do every single day.

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6 responses »

  1. What a brilliant ending statement.

    I think we as teachers often completely forget how much they are going through in their learning and should challenge ourselves to undertake an equal level of “work.”

    As Stevick says “the total meaning of a language course for any one student is the net effect it has on him (or her)” (from TU)

    Karenne

    Reply
    • Thank you Karenne. I think we need to remain ever mindful of what it is we ask our students to do every day. The ultimate comfort zone is our language – being out of it is tough, anywhere any time.

      Candy

      Reply
  2. p.s. you have snow on your blog…

    Reply
  3. I sympathise with your BC experience. We have just had a similar scenario with them. They seem to want everything to be a series of ticks on a checklist – which is not what we are about either.
    I hope that schools like yours help them see that everyone has something to offer – different though it may be. Keep your chin up
    Sue

    Reply
  4. Thank you Sue.

    Being judged has always held great horror for me. I’m doing what I believe is right and good, and am always afraid of being dismissed or criticised for that. We do stand firm, but it is hard when a negative judgement can have far-reaching consequences. I’m sure all went well though..

    Candy

    Reply

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