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Here’s an optimistic TED talk on yesterday’s topic (thanks Tom!).
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Sugata Mitra’s article in the Guardian on Saturday was very interesting. If you have seen his TED talks (and they are well worth watching), you will know the kind of educational changes he is looking to make.
What struck me is how similar it is to what my collaborator Daniel E. and I are trying to do at Tohoku University. There is a common thread running through our reading, discussion, presentation, and computer classes. We call it ‘practical’, ‘industrial’, or ‘student-focused’ English. To be honest, we haven’t found the perfect descriptor yet 😉
All of the classes are built on the following principles:
1. content and participation are student-generated
2. the bulk of the teacher’s work happens outside the classroom in planning and preparation
3. teachers have a coaching rather than instructional role
4. students are active and spend most of their time using English in pairs or small groups
5. teachers have high expectations regarding student achievement
We’ve mainly been talking about extensive reading so far, but there are plans afoot for a guide to leading discussion classes, with online study and presentation to follow after that. For now, you can catch us at the Extensive Reading World Congress in Seoul in September, or at JALT National in Kobe in October.
Or, you know, leave a comment here if you like!
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Ken Robinson, the most popular speaker on the TED website, and someone who talks about education to boot. I’m guessing many of my readers have seen this talk already, but just in case I’m putting it on here.
Ken Robinson is one of my favourite speakers. He is incredibly skilled. Notice how he speaks for 20 minutes in the video above, with no notes, no slides, nothing to support him, and still manages to be compelling and stay on track. I can only imagine the hours of practice that went into that one off-the-cuff seeming talk.
This particular talk struck a chord because it seems to go against everything I’m working on at the moment in terms of setting standards and expectations at my university. However, once I thought about it, our programs involve setting expectations but then giving students a lot of leeway as to how they meet them (which books they choose to read, how they talk about articles, which websites they choose to use). We don’t expect the same from all students, but we expect all students to put in similar amounts of time and effort (or understand the consequences of not doing so).
Having watched the talk, do you see any connection to your own teaching practice?
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I saw a fantastic TED talk the other day, and wanted to share it with you. I think it is very applicable to all teachers, including eikaiwa and university.
I would love to be half as inspiring as this woman.