The Big Lie

The old idea of “spare the rod and spoil the child” is out of date everywhere and that includes in our profession. It doesn’t align with the paradigm shift we are in. What shift? 

Basically, in my view, the shift is about learning to love one another – an ancient idea that we seem to never get each time that it’s delivered to us from the Divine. But maybe this time we’ll get it.

What does this mean? Hocus pocus spiritual stuff? No.

It means that we need to stop being hard asses like we used to. You know what I mean – the strict teacher who bases her instruction on memorization, who rewards only the few fast processors in the class while covertly telling the rest of her students to take a hike. 

When that happens, and it happens every year to millions of children in language classrooms around the world, the majority of the kids are sent the dark message that they “can’t do it”, that they don’t “measure up”.

Those poor kids. 

The “successful” kids, those few, are sent the message that they are the winners. And who are those kids? They are the same kids being groomed to take their place in society as the “leaders” and the vast majority of them happen to be, in the upper levels, privileged.

But they aren’t the winners because when they graduate with four years of A’s and B’s and then go to the country to use the language, they will find out that, as so many have found out in the past, they can’t actually do anything with the language.

Those days are over and I hope I’ve written enough posts here since May 25th, 2020 (George Floyd’s murder) to make the point stick that racism is alive and active in our nation’s schools. Teachers who still teach like they did fifty years ago – with their heads fully wedged in terms of the standard and the research – deserve to lose their jobs, and they will lose them. They also deserve the opprobrium of their colleagues and students. 

And yet the Big Lie in language education is still going on! Kids are being taught like they were fifty years ago still today!

Here’s my message:

With stories, teaching a language successfully is very difficult, but it reaches most students. Without stories, success is virtually impossible, and reaches only a few bright kids. You have to pick one of these. If you pick the first, you align with 21st century standards. If you pick the second, you align with nothing. You do, however, convey the illusion to lots of kids that they can’t learn a language. Don’t do that anymore.

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