(Warning – long post with rant qualities in it, although not a full on rant.)
…is One Word Image under a “TPRS umbrella” if we create a compelling scene, and then leave it without developing a plot, or dramatizing it? Sounds like CI only to me….
Here’s some background on that. People can draw their own conclusions.
In June of 2010 (I think) I was sitting with Meredith and Joe and Paul and Nina and Sally and Reuben (DPS writing team) one Saturday morning in a school waiting for Diana to arrive with breakfast when we started thinking of terms to replace TPRS with. It was on the heels of that (2008-2013) political situation going on with Blaine which I feel it best to leave entirely out of this narration, which is too long anyway.
We were throwing out alternative terms to TPRS around the room. Diana seemed to be never arriving with breakfast, and we kept tossing out terms. Finally Meredith (Richmond) haltingly said “Teaching with Comprehensible Input”. I remember the moment, where I was sitting, the way the morning sun was slanting in from the east into the school over the Denver skyline.
So we started using it in DPS and the next years – and this is still going on – people in DPS started using TPRS and TCI interchangeably, but there was always the vibe to it that if you said or wrote TPRS that was not politically correct.
A full on movement came into being in our district to describe this new broader kind of TPRS that wasn’t always just about creating stories. The general opinion was that there was a wider umbrella term that better described what we were doing in those years around 2010-2013 in DPS. It was generally agreed that since we were doing “more than stories” that we should therefore not use the term TPRS anymore. The die was cast for TCI.
(A side bar here is that by 2010 teachers nationally had so shredded what Blaine had invented – just trashing it in their classrooms but calling it TPRS when it didn’t even come close to being anything slightly resembling TPRS, that the general public, long enamored of bashing Blaine since the 1990’s because of his truly different ideas about teaching, correctly found ample reason to reject it because they thought that the garbage teaching going on their buildings that was being called TPRS was just terrible. No blame is being directed on those people – we all are doing the best we can – but I always felt a sense that so many people were just jumping on a bandwagon, the latest thing, when in reality we had found what could possibly be the best way of teaching a foreign language in the history of the world – because we all don’t have Rassias for our last names nor are we able to teach in settings where we slow down brain waves and teach as per Suggestopedia. And what we had had actual research behind it! But the misuse of it by so many rankled me. Those few who at that time were rying to stay true to the Three Steps did so amidst things getting wider and wider and more diffused, like a mushroom cloud, and about 2013 the whole thing – all this is my own opinion – was so far out of control that it was in risk of general collapse, except in the Denver Public Schools where Diana was doing the leadership work of ten people. and spending large amounts of time in classrooms observing and training so that we have gone from 5 of 100 TPRS teachers in DPS to over 80 right now. My own reaction to the general crusade personally spurred me on into a kind of day and night frenzy that has gone on for at least ten years now to protect, defend and illustrate the core beauty of the Three Steps. To me the Three Steps contain the secret to a new kind of art in teaching. Now that blurting is no longer happening in my classroom, I find that I am able to be a real artist, responding to whims one after another as I teach, responding to whimsy and happiness (the blurting was stopping it) so that I can say now that I would rather be in a classroom than out of it, because it’s so fun to teach when the Three Steps, that secret, are there helping me be a teacher I could never ever be except in my dreams before these happy days.
So it never felt right to me, that term TCI. I always felt there was that political piece that was spurring people to use it. So I kept using the term TPRS, and I remember there was always a vibe in DPS that I should be using TCI but the vibe of TPRS felt truer and more honest to me and still does. As if we don’t have enough weird stuff going on with acronyms. But the TPRS vs. TCI deal has been going on now for too many years. To me it’s all TPRS but here in our blog discussions people still don’t know which acronym to use as they write comments here. Here on the blog most people seem to use TCI. But the way I see it is that it is it all TPRS but also we owe Blaine. He was Jack up the beanstalk and brought back the golden egg. His vision in bringing back the golden egg can’t be dismissed.
Let’s say it again and be really clear – the core of TPRS is the same core of everything we do regardless of how we package it, so why do we call it something else. Every strategy that I have shared here over nine years is just TPRS as per the revolutionary process of establishing meaning of a few structures, practicing them, creating something with the kids using those few structures and previously learned words, then reading it.
What also happened round about 2010? We started doing iFLT conferences and part of that was connected to separating out Blaine for reasons beyond politics: money. There are other wrinkles to this but that was a big one. TPRS had become by 2010 a way to teach that was connected to the cult of one personality – Blaine’s. I always felt that some real giants, Gaab, Noonan, Jason Fritze, and especially the great Susan Gross were kind of diminished in stature under Blaine’s profile. A really weird situation! Plus Blaine’s little chapter books really sucked. Gaab solved that one, beautifully.
But, again, when I was inventing new things for my own classroom to me it was just TPRS. There was always the establish meaning part. There was always the practice getting reps by asking questions part, even if we didn’t call it stories. There was always the creation of something with the class in the TL whether it was a story or not. There was always a reading. Just one example of many is that when I invented One Word Images and started doing sharing that and other strategies in conferences, etc. as a way of simplifying things for teachers who wanted to dip their toes into stories and not dive in headfirst, to me it was always some form of the Three Steps. Large numbers of people and most on this blog will most likely disagree – that is why we are a strong group – because we can disagree strongly and still love and support each other, but in my view the work we do will always be due to the core sequence invented consciously by Blaine in the early 1990’s as he sat down with Krashen’s research and painstakingly and, again, consciously set out to apply those ideas to something new. I see no reason to stop crediting him for the invention of the wheel – which is what TPRS is on the level of, because he did invent the wheel.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could