TDSIG Unplugged Countdown: “Four…”

This mini-series sketches out some of the ideas that I would like to explore at the upcoming TDSIG Unplugged Conference in Barcelona on 21 May 2011.  If any of them chime with you and you would like to explore them as well – or if you would like to work on completely different issues, the conference is there to give you the open space to do just that.  It is never too late to join in, so if you haven’t already, visit and register!

Counting down…4…

How can we share academic knowledge effectively to help the first Dr. Dogme emerge?”

Image: "If an untidy desk signifies an untidy mind, what does an empty desk signify?" - A. Einstein -
"If an untidy desk signifies an untidy mind, what does an empty desk signify?" - A. Einstein -

In an earlier “wish list” entry, I suggested that gathering some kind of formal evidence base was one way of building a case for teaching unplugged that would possibly help convince those who are – understandably – still somewhat skeptical of its superiority to all other approaches to teaching languages (ahem…)

And there does seem to be real interest in Dogme ELT as an area of serious academic study. Scott Thornbury (for one) has mentioned on occasion and other bloggers have also been throwing around the idea of exploring unplugged methodology and principles at MA level (though for the life of me I can’t find the references right now – and if you see my desk in the picture, you’ll understand why…) the search for the first Dr. Dogme, and frankly, after ten years, one could reasonably question why this person hasn’t already emerged.

One reason might be the ongoing perceived lack of academic definition as to what teaching unplugged actually is: is it an approach?  A method?  A critique?  Or, my favorite term, is it simply an attitude, a “way of thinking” about teaching and learning?

Fools rush in where …

This lack of definition – combined with some news that others wiser than I am have discarded the idea of writing on this – has persuaded me to request a shift in focus for my MA dissertation to address this question.

So my interest in exploring ways of enabling a Dr. Dogme to emerge are partly social, but to a great extent self-centred!  That said, I am prepared to put in spadework, and I am prepared to share, so this is what I would propose…

Setting up a form of spreadsheet or database (for example, in Google Docs) wherein can be catalogued all instances (OK, as many as we can find…) of articles or references to Dogme ELT/teaching unplugged.  These could be journal entries, articles, books, discussion forums (and their posts), twitter streams, blog posts/comments etc.

Google Docs can be embedded so we could hard-wire it into our blogs and thereby increase overall ease of access – like keeping a fridge full of communal beer at everyone’s house.

We, the People, Bequeath this unto the Nation…

The database would be open for everyone to make a contribution or to use for their own research purposes: a kind of Unplugged Public Library.

I know that there are archives or collections of Dogme-related stuff out there already, but from what I’ve seen they lack the academic organisation to make them easily useful as a research tool.  Of course, if you have access to an academic library and are good at boolean searches, you can find this all out yourself alone, but it all takes time and access.

With a little more APA organisation and a lot of crowdsourcing, our shared literature awareness as a community could become a very powerful resource.

Anyone else interested in helping future generations to stand on the shoulders of giants?  Maybe we can see a Dr. Dogme by the time this decade ticks over?  Won’t be me, though, if my desk is anything to go by…

Get in touch via this blog by adding a comment or visit the TDSIG discussion list, or form a working group in Barcelona on Saturday 21st 🙂


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