Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, March 03, 2006

Landon Donovan or Ronaldhino?

by AJ

"We are not prepared....

WE pay ever more lip-service to 'people power', even as we cling to our longstanding penchant for hiring and cultivating obedient 'employees'.


We must understand that, in an age when value-added flows from creativity, a quirky, energetic, and (yes) disobedient 'talent pool' has become the primary basis of competitive advantage... perhaps the only basis for competitive advantage."

--Tom Peters

Quirky, energetic, disobedient. That describes the few inspiring teachers Ive had in my life. I think, for example, of AUA's Thai language program. Most of the teachers were "good", no doubt about it. But there were a few that were great... not only energetic and fun, but also wholeheartedly dedicated to their students. What a difference they made. I went out of my way to attend their classes, even when it was inconvenient for my schedule. I wasnt the only one. Certain teachers always had full classes.

This isnt a criticism of the "good" ones. Its just that "good" is not good enough. Here in San Francisco, every English school in the city has "good" teachers, no doubt. Im sure they use "good" textbooks too (though I consider this an oxymoron). Good is normal. Good is average.

A "good" teacher comes to class on time, works through the textbook diligently, and throws in a few "communication activities". A good teacher is basically a nice person. Students are not inspired by "good". They dont seek out good. They dont leave their old school to transfer to another "good" one. They dont rearrange their schedule to attend a good teacher's class.

The great ones at AUA had heart. I cant break it down into a formula... all I can say is you immediately felt a HUGE BOOST of positive energy when they entered the room. And they werent all hyper-maniacs like me, either. But whether wild or poised, they radiated passion, dedication, caring, and an intense interest in what they were doing. THAT is infectious.

Educators are always debating techniques, approaches, research, curriculum (Im guilty of this, I know). But dammit, these do not a great teacher make. Great teachers have SOMETHING SPECIAL.... and students recognize it immediately.

We'd be well served to spend a bit less time on the "hard issues" and a LOT more time on intangibles.

Let me use a soccer/futbol analogy: Do we want a team of good/solid technicians (Landon Donovans), or do we want a team of quirky, passionate geniuses (Ronaldhinos).

Ill go with the Brazilians.

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