Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Saturday, January 28, 2006


"Don't let excuses stop you from dreaming, or stop you from doing something (even just one thing) to change your school or the schools in your community for the better. And don't let wrong-minded policies or systems get in your way, either. Someone once said to me, 'School bureaucracies do not change because they see the light, but because they feel the heat'. A study I recently read found that the one thing the greatest managers in the world have in common is that they do not hesitate to break the rules.

If you start doing something that works, people take notice and want to do the same thing in other places. This is how bad rules get broken and replaced by better policies."


This could also be called he Nike principle, ie. "Just Do It".

Or, as I like to put it, "Just try shit". Im lucky to be in an open and flexible school now. But in most organizations so much time is wasted on debate. When someone has an interesting idea, they discuss it. They debate it. The devil's advocates come out of the woodwork. Will it work? Will it fail? Round and round and round.... when all that is necessary is to give it a try and see.

Trying stuff is so much more efficient. In the time it takes a typical department to consider, debate, modify, and improve one new idea... I can experiment with ten, discard the failures, keep the successes, reflect on both, and generate 10 new ideas. Since Ive taken this approach, my teaching methods have evolved rapidly.

But its not just for teachers. Im realizing I need to encourage this same approach with my students. Rather than analyzing the language endlessly.... they need to get out there and try to communicate. They too will "fail" often. But they'll learn faster... and just as importantly, their confidence will grow. As their peers consider the possible uses of the present perfect, they'll be learning communicative English that works.

We waste so much time in virtual reality.. debating hypotheticals.

Therein lies the real point of our upcoming trip to the retirement home. Maybe the students will hate it. Maybe their activities will "fail". But at least they will be trying to communicate outside of class. We'll learn from the experience regardless of its outcome.

And then we'll try something else.