Field A1

A repost from 2018:

I’m on a new kick – the appreciation of beauty. By us. When we’re teaching. So that our students can experience something beautiful each day instead of what they experience now, with the testing in all their classes and all.

Why not? Why not make schools into places where beauty (of languages in our cases, because languages are very very beautiful) instead of places where we tell them how they don’t measure up?

There is a part of the pre-frontal cortex where MRI scans show activity in the “emotional brain”, specifically Field A1 (not the steak sauce) of the medial orbital-frontal cortex. It is the same area stimulated by moral, visual and musical beauty. It is where real language acquisition lies for our students.

I don’t care if the research says that such things are important or not. I’m saying it is true for me. Beauty – and it’s cousin, Humor – make our CI classes not just interesting but also compelling.

(I have been following the changes in Krashen’s thinking over the years. In 2009 he shifted the key word from “interesting” to “compelling”. That was a big deal to me and explains the main change/push forward in my thinking from 2009 to 20015 that led to the Invisibles.)

WE CAN’T JUST DO CI, WE’VE GOT TO DO CI THAT IS COMPELLING. AND NOW ONLINE THAT IS MORE THAN EVER TRUE. HOW ELSE TO CAPTURE AND KEEP THEIR ATTENTION ONLINE THAN WITH INPUT THAT IS COMPELLING? COVID HAS EXPOSED THE UNDERBELLY OF OUR LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION.  NOW WE REALLY MUST ALIGN OUR INSTRUCTION WITH THE RESEARCH. NO MORE TEACHING WATERED- DOWN CI IN THE CLASSROOM. TIME TO BECOME BIG GIRLS AND BOYS.

Related: https://benslavic.com/blog/kierkegaard/

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1 thought on “Field A1”

  1. Hmmm. With my adult learners, seeing the beauty in life is more compelling than to teens. They are based in caregiving and working. Talking small talk like the weather or the gardens or what their children are doing is the meat of their conversations in any language. I have been struggling with building “funny” stories around monster characters. It doesn’t sit respectfully with their time in my mind. But conversing about beauty does. That is compelling. That is high interest and doesn’t require cute answers just an appreciation of the beauty of life unfolding around us and the preciousness of recognizing it and sharing it with another.

    With youth seeing the beauty of life around them opens their eyes to looking for the good. It cuts down the anxiousness of their inner critic and bathes their brains in positivity. We all need those gratitude moments that come from seeing the brighter moments in dark times.

    When I was teaching during our community meetings that sharing of a beauty moment came as an appreciation or act of kindness and students shared those freely. We actually limited it to 3 a day and if others had them they could tell me later by writing them down. Then I posted those on a wall later. Might work with Zoom sessions and message walls.

    Wishing you all well,
    Kate

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