Calculated Silliness

30 01 2011

A fellow teacher lent me a film called “The History Boys”, a cohort of brilliant Oxbridge hopefuls trying to gain an edge to pass the university entrance exams. I guess she was trying to make a point after a department meeting and how testing may be ruining our “beautiful minds”. What is the nature of this edge? One of the old teachers still believes it is the love for words, the alchemy of passing it on; the headmaster and a younger teacher think it is about pure test-taking ability, delivery efficacy, and results. Craftsmen versus technicians, inspiration versus method.  If I remember well, one of the other history teachers says that it is about “calculated silliness”. I love this idea. Clever!


Funky Town

4 05 2010

I have to know, because I have to make things happen. I have to make things happen because language can’t wait, magic can’t wait. This is as TESOL-funky as you can be.


25 04 2010

The other night I watched one of those BBC documentaries produced by David Attenborough called “Life in the Undergrowth”: state-of-the-art equipment to narrate the bizarre, ferocious and surprinsingly hypersensitive world of the invertebrates. The invertebrates have turned out to be the most successful creatures at conquering the planet by constituting supersocieties, and by coming up with outrageous innovations when needed such as the development of wings or the use of silk as a mating and hunting technique.

Now, I can’t help seeing my classroom as a metaphor of the  jungle undergrowth and wonder who is who in the language learning ecosystem.  I hope that all the reading I’m doing for my TESOL courses helps me understand why teachers have backbones…

Damsel fly © Alamy Images

Me “Prefiere” Knife.

6 04 2010

I’ve just got back from Dublin with a group of elementary level students. They felt a little overwhelmed by their first experience abroad and the Irish accent. Big crocodile, indeed. Thinking back on class work, I strongly believed we had gone past the survival mode, coming out of the Tarzan-like stage, believing in the wonders of civilization, so to speak. Wrong. Everyone held on to their knives when the reptile appeared…        


Run, Caesar, Run!

17 03 2010

How come that some English language teachers in my Department are so suspicious of how much the TESOL field has advanced?  Why is every comment in this direction felt as a personal attack? Do lawyers get offended when someone utters the word “Constitution”? Do doctors resent the fact that hearts are the organs in charge of pumping blood?  Do musicians question the existence of rhythm? When was this all-opinions-and-no-facts conspiracy concocted ?  


What’s the magic word?

9 03 2010

Typically, educators have the impression that teacher development courses end up being a “hand-out market”: not much course offer addressing substantial teaching issues or posing real challenges for the reflective practitioner. Instinct seems to be the buzz word: from L2 assessment to the selection of textbooks. from classroom dynamics to the teaching of pronunciation.  When instinct and years of experience are cornered by an insightful teacher training workshop, the skeptical teachers pull out a new magic word from their hats: “SUBJECTIVITY”.  Waiting for their next trick…

James Cameron, please..?

23 02 2010

Please, if you happen to know James Cameron, the movie director, ask him whether the teacher researcher or the teacher as a reflective practitioner would qualify as a Na’avi, an avatar, or a human. Just curious…