I think even the most rabid of coursebook critics, amongst whom I count myself, would concede that, on the whole, published course materials have been getting better over time.
New examples of unsuccessful work will always come to light, and older gems will always lead us into the fallacy that “they don’t make ’em like they used to”, but it seems quite undeniable that the range and quality of material, created by the depth of talent, available to teachers today is overwhelming.
Of course, my use of the word “overwhelming” is deliberate. While it is wonderful to think that there is such an embarrassment of material for the modern teacher, it is also obvious that this sea of stuff requires skilled navigation.
This is the substance of a conversation I heard on the train recently.
Initially I only vaguely listened while trying to concentrate on my book, but the conversation began to grip my attention and I transcribed it.
Names, while overheard, have been omitted in the interests of privacy.
This conversation was one of probably hundreds of similar conversations between parents and children going on throughout the UK at the time.
Scene: a train carriage in the UK
Protagonists: a mother and male child, late nursery or early primary school age. Child is reading aloud, mother is encouraging the child to continue and is engaging the child in conversation about the book he is just finishing. Continue reading →
The basic distinction that teacher training tended to occur more in a pre-service setting (hereafter: PRESET) whereas teacher education tended to happen more at in-service (hereafter: INSET) level was queried but not seriously disputed by most participants.
However, as the chat went on, it became clear that this “false dichotomy” (as I called it) led, once accepted, to some fairly radical statements about the nature of teacher training.
Earlier today I unexpectedly had the opportunity to cover a teaching practice slot on our CELTA course. As I was watching one of my trainee teachers working with a recording of a book-club discussion about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, I started to think about what I could do next with the student group that would be challenging and worth their while.
I decided to ask them if they were writers themselves, and it turns out that one of them had recently penned a poem to a friend on the occasion of their birthday (if I understood them correctly). from here, I made a connection to some poetry writing that I had been doing with students recently myself, and this led me to my blog.
I showed some of my recent posts and then admitted a problem: I am so busy with the current training course that I was afraid about not getting my next post out in time.
The class agreed – cautiously – to becoming my first ever guest blog post writers, with a post about their experience as students working with my trainee teachers in teaching practice. .
We defined who my typical readership was and what they were likely to be interested in hearing about, and then I let each student write about whatever they felt like in response to this. I spent my time supporting them and refining where I could, but I didn’t suggest content.
They agreed that I could post their comments on their teaching practice experience here, and I would love it if you would reply to them in a comment.
These are private words addressed to you in public
– T.S. Eliot
I do not expect many will read this. It does not matter. As I write, I imagine you are being carried by friends and family from the church to your final resting place. I doubt you will like that very much: you never were a restful kind of guy.
You were the best teacher I have ever had. We only worked together for two years but in that time I can honestly say that you forged me. You didn’t mould me, you didn’t shape me: you heated me, tempered me, prepared me to take an edge. Continue reading →