When we work from lesson plans and word lists we put a blanket over precisely that part of ourselves that we are trying to uncover in our professions – the joyful part.
It is an unavoidable part of that misguided (in terms of the research) effort. Krashen calls the effect of such targeted “a constraint on interest.”
For some of us, it was love for the language that first drew us, like lovers, to the threshold of the language we now teach. I teach because I want to share my love of French with others, not to teach them the language, which is a dry and not a lovely activity.
First I loved my language, then I decided to teach it, but I want the love part in there too. If the love isn’t in our instruction, how can we bring to our students an appreciation of the incredible works of art that our languages are?
A lesson plan and a word list are parts of a language. They are “what”. But why focus on the “what” when we can focus on the “how” – the flow, the fluidity, the natural beauty of the language? Why do we have to focus so much on the facts. Just the facts, ma’am!
The what in some odd robotic way smothers the how. The how is where the style is, where the mojo is, where the heart is. Minds don’t laugh; hearts do. And don’t people sometimes say that at the end of their lives that it wasn’t really about what they did but how they did it, how much fun they had?
Lesson plans and data collection smother that which might really teach our kids the language in the real way. Can’t we just let the language take us where it will? No blankets to hide the beauty, fracture it into pieces so you can’t see the entirety of the thing?
No more blankets for me. For lots more articles on this topic, search the word FLOW and the acronym NTCI on this site.