Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dramatic Difference

by AJ

Educators are complacent. They've been doing the same damn thing for decades-- the same tired old factory approach. With regards to language education, they have a dismal success rate. In America, in Japan, in Thailand... its the same story. The VAST majority of students who study a foreign language never get close to proficiency. Not native speaker level. Not fluency. Just proficiency (the ability to use the language in everyday conversations).

Why is this failure tolerated? Why do we continue to blame the students? We give them grades... in fact, many of us spend a massive amount of time on evaluating, testing, grading, and sorting them. But what about us?

If students are to be graded (a practice I deplore)... then we should at least allow them to grade us. And Im not just talking about tepid "teacher evaluation forms". Why dont we let them evaluate us through the semester? Why dont we also receive a letter grade from our students.. and have to maintain a certain GPA as teachers?

I imagine that terrifies the average teacher... because the average teacher is just that: AVERAGE. Totally without distinction. Totally without audacity. The bulk of the education system (in most countries) seems to run on the maxim "cover your ass". By this, educators mean... follow the rules, fill out the paperwork, and dont do anything risky or extraordinary.

But I sense that Tom Peters is right. The ground is shifting.... and sooner or later, mediocre just isnt gonna cut it. The teacher with the best job security is not the one who has seniority and a long history of covering their ass. Job security belongs to the teacher who is remarkable... who is dramatically different. That sort of person rarely has trouble finding another job. And that sort of teacher does not fear being fired.

As teachers its time we stopped cowering like sheep-- our mission is to create "Wow experiences" for our students (using TP's terminology again). Not good. Not competent.

Wow! When was the last time you heard a student say "Wow!!" after one of your classes? (Be honest).

If your answer is the same as mine... you've got a lot of thinking to do.