Tony Gurr

On Moms, Pops and “the Examocracy”…a student’s eye view!

In Assessment, Learning & Parenting, Our Universities on 08/12/2012 at 9:12 pm

expletive bubble

Yes, I did get into some “hot water” for using the “F- word” in my last post


…but they wereSir” Phil’s wordsnot mine! 

Besides…since when was “poetry” NOT an important part of EDUcation and LEARNing?


The point of my last post was not Larkin’s opening line – it was about a challenge that many ELL and ELT professionals and their students face on a day-to-day basis (and not just in Turkey – all over the globe). It was a “personal” view based on a “story” that involved “real people” that I care about.


But as I reflected on my experience as “Uncle Tony” I thought I might dig a little deeper…with one of the expert LEARNers (students) that I know.

Afterall –  tis “student voices” that should carry more weight than our own.


If anyone in EDUcation does not like that little comment:



Those of you that know the blog…might remember Emre Gökhan Şahin

Gökhan is in his final year at Özyeğin University in İstanbul and he did one of my first “guest” posts (in fact, my very first student guest post) – entitled “Need a BUDDY, buddy?”

He has “grown up” since then – and has been “promoted” to the rank of TEACHing Assistant – Yes, a TA…and he ain’t even graduated, yet!


He is a real LEARNer!

…and it just goes to show what expert TEACHers can do when we get together with expert LEARNers.

mentor student

What really impressed me about Gökhan was that he actually “acted” on what he saw in himself (as a novice LEARNer) and what he LEARNed  – “with” and “for” some of his friends who were also struggling with their own ELL.

He built a student-centred Buddy System…and he still helps out with students that need help with their ELL!

What’s even better…he’s actually seriously thunking about becoming a TEACHer himself when he graduates. OK, it’s in “accounting” –  but we can’t have everything!


So…after that last postI tweeted Gökhan!

I asked him for a student’s eye view on what I was “ranting” about…

Hazırlık 01

Mmmm, not as good a start as I was hoping…he wasn’t even reading my latest post!



He just needed a bit of time…

Hazırlık 02

I had to ask the obvious question:

Hazırlık 03

Gökhan is clearly a “good son”!

Many other kids see a lot more pressure from their parentals (esp. if they are at a private or “vakıf” university)…often the subtle type that goes on for years...and “eats” away at us slowly.

I’m sure if we asked most parents what they expect from their children in Hazırlık, the answer would be “PASS” – not “LEARN how to effectively interact with speakers of English and their texts”!


However, because I knew about Gökhan’s “Buddy System” I had to ask:

Hazırlık 04

Read what he said again…go on!

“Success” is the result of enjoyment and self-confidence!

Do I really need to say any more?


OK – let’s come back to my twitter-enabled LEARNing Conversation with Gökhan.

He had said something I almost missed:

Hazırlık 05

“I don’t like being restricted”

…if we went to most Hazırlık students right now, I bet most of them would use the term “restricted” (or something like that) when they discuss their experience of  Lise 5 …sorry, their ELL Hazırlık experience!

OK, but “watch” what Gökhan “does” next:

Hazırlık 06

This young TA recognises he does not have enough “data” to inform his own decision-making.

HE decides to “listen” to students…WTF (sorry)!

HE suggests a doing a “study”.

HE proposes doing it in “groups”.

HE chooses who he wants to help him…HE selects his own “TEACHer”…WTF (OK…maybe not so sorry for that)!

I…just see an “opportunity” for a new blog post!


HE starts to “plan”:

Hazırlık 07

HE is in charge…because HE wants to LEARN something!

And…HE gives ME permission to do this post!


I can’t help wondering why more colleges and universities have not caught on to the type of Collaborative LEARNing that Gökhan and I did – over twitter, not in a classroom!

However, I’m more impressed that Gökhan “gets it”!


HE “gets” that the two questions below are very different:

Hazırlık FQs

…he just knows that there are only TWO “real” answers for both these questions:

Hazırlık IMP FQ (answers)


…and, he also knows which one is more important!


I had one final thing I wanted to say to Gökhan:

Hazırlık FINAL

…we do, afterall, have to keep these good ones from going over to the Dark Side!

  1. I read the post with tears in my eyes. Gokhan and Tony, you guys, inspire me. Tony, thanks for asking the right questions. And Gokhan, I really don’t have the words to compliment you on your growth. I just feel very lucky to have been a part of your learning journey!

    • Aybike….Canım Hocam….I know exactly what you mean. I am also so lucky that you brought Gökhan into my life (and blog)…in addition to my own journey as a LEARNer and TEACHer 😉

      But, hey…it ain’t finished, yet 😉 We have to create more Gökhans 😉


    • Aybike Hocam, i am one of those who have the opportunity of working together with open-minded and inspiring teachers as you… hope to do some work that makes us proud of it at the end 🙂

  2. Tks so much for this post.

    “Read what he said again…go on! “Success” is the result of enjoyment and self-confidence!”

    Those are two things I have been encouraging my own daughter to do (and students too)shift from students to learners. As she is sitting next to me learning more of chemistry subject for a test tomorrow, moving from a student waiting to be told what to do for the test, becoming terribly anxious.. she is relaxed, know what to look for, looking for it and enjoying the ride.

    Tks to both of you for reminding me how important this is, and as I see the key is to encorage and support them. It takes time though for them to develop self-confidence. It took my daughter a year of so and also for to realise what was going on. That was when she was in 8th grade, now she is in 10th grade and fighting to pass her final exams to move to 11th grade and be able to get into technical course of visual communication. If she fails, she won’t take the technical course next year as she planned too. Too much for a young lady to deal with unfortunally (15 year old). It definetely could be more enjoyable and less stressful. But the system is the system and I can only support her personally as her tutor as I did when she was in 9th grade when teachers only said she needed to study more but taught her nothing about how to become a better learner. It took me 4 months to find some light and dive in with her into the process, sharing with her my own strategies.

    Another thing, I was part of the teacher counseling my own daughter was my student in English subject and I had to listen to the physics teacher to label my daugter as lazy and distracted. I had even been told to take my daughter to a specialist cause she might need help. So, I stood up and told the other teachers, do not worry I will take care of her from now on personally I will tutor her in every subject and I did for 8 months. At the end I told my daughter, “Go, you are able to take care of yourself now. and remember this, no one will take the time to do it for you, you gotta do it yourself.”

    I hope this comment makes sense to anyone that reads it. It is very emotional to write about this as I can for my own children and try very hard to help other children to learn, not pass exams.

    I give ever since the advice I gave my daughter back then. The challenge is knowing what you need to learn and where to get that from. Who you need to ask or where to look at.

    Tks again,
    Rose Bard
    Proud to be an educator

    • Rose,

      I had to take some time to think about your (very open and honest) comment – thank you for sharing that with us. I totally get the dilemma you faced as a “TEACHing PARENTal” – I faced many of the same challenges with my own big, little girl. She is now doing very well in her final year of Uni – but we had to “suffer” primary and high school and had more than one schooling-induced sleepless night.

      I see my daughter today – engaged, happy and successful – and wonder what it was that her school TEACHers did not get. I know what it is – a “truth” better made by Julia Flutter & Jean Rudduck

      Children at school are “hungry” for the 3Rs – responsibility, respect and reality……teachers and schools can meet these needs by focussing on the 3Cs – choice, challenge and collaboration.

      I hope more and more of today’s TEACHers “hear” this…and “act” on it 😉

      Once again – thank you for dropping in and, more importantly, sharing so openly…


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