Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘Questioning Culture’

Back to Basics – “QUESTION Basics”, that is!

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, Technology on 04/11/2013 at 2:45 pm

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

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I’ve been getting a lot of flak recently for doing so much on all that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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Come on…not my fault!

I’ve been doing a few programmes / projects of late that are designed to put the TECH into the EDwithout forgetting the LEARNing – especially the TEACHer LEARNing!

Afterall…

Tech Change (Clay Shirky quote) ver 01

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…and, Clay is a guy I choose not to disagree with too much

(unless it’s about hair-styles)!

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Now, the plan (for this current post) was to look at some of the questions that we (as TEACHers) really need to be asking ourselves as we look at ways to “use” (more) EDtech – to enhance what we need to be doing….to help our students do more with the stuff they are supposed to be LEARNing….with us!

Yes, that’s a mouthful…and a half.

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That’s because we need to be doing more than just “DOing” stuff in the classroom…

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

…we need to be THUNKing DOers – in our classrooms!

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What I was going to do (in this post) was look at a few of the questions all TEACHers need to ask BEFORE they jump on the latest band-wagon or hand over their credits cards to one of the many…

Digital Cheerleaders ver 02

…that are out there – lots of whom (sadly) are TEACHers, too!

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You know, questions like:

LEARNing First TECH Laters 01

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This one is even “sexier” (probably because I stole and co-opted it from Clay Christensen):

LEARNing First TECH Laters 02

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Not only the EDtech you “hire” yourself…what the school also hires – for you!

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Why, Tony?

Why do we need to question everything?

I just want to get on with my job…

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Well, because…of what Uncle Clay (the first one) tells us above – but perhaps, more importantly,

NEW and SHINY

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Let’s look at an example (very) close to home (if you live here in canım Türkiyem):

Fatih Project

I am a Turk now – can say what I want about OUR projects!

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Did it work? Is it working? Will it ever work – if we throw more money at it?

Why not?

DUMB things with SMARTboards (Heidi Hayer Jacobs quote) ver 02 TG

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What’s the price-tag?

Taxpayer

Me thunks…someone, somewhere got some ‘splaining to do – to all us tax-payers!

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Questions, questions, questions…are GOOD!

Never let anyone tell you any different…

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If we start asking these types of questions (about allthingsEDtech), others just start bouncing around and out of the old grey matter:

How does this tech 01

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But, heywhy stop at student LEARNing:

How does this tech 02

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…when we can (also) do so much more with our own TEACHer LEARNing!

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Questions, questions, questions…

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…because we all know (especially if you speaks a wee bit of Mandarin):

Questions (Chinese Proverb) ver 02 TG

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Now, that was what I WAS going to say (in this post)…but I won’t – because a few of you are a bit fed up withall that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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So, let’s really get back to “basics”:

What is this

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NEXT TIME…söz!

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Why there is no more room for the “Blame Game” in 21C LEARNing Culture…

In Educational Leadership, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 19/09/2013 at 10:47 pm

21C Logo TG ver 02

I know, I know

…I promised that I would stop using the phrase “21st Century LEARNing”.

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SUE me (Ver 02)

OK – so glad we got that out of the way!

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In one of my very first posts (seems like a lifetime or three ago…but it is, in fact, only 30 months) –  The End of the Highway – I talked about the type of organisational culture that I saw evolving over the next few years (for the Information Age and Knowledge Economyso now you see why I went with “21C” a wee bit later).

A culture, I suggested, that was characterized NOT by the “old world” my-way-or-the-highway approaches adopted by so many of the “bosses” we had when we were younger…but by a “new world” organisational culture grounded on:

21C Org Culture (ver 02)

OMG! My graphics were pretty lousy back in the day, yes?

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Now, that’s a place I want to live…the kind of place I want my grandkids to LEARN within (no, just stop asking me about that bloody “manopause” thing already)!

A true LEARNing Culture for the 21st Century!

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But, what happens, for example, if I meet with an untimely demise – there are many Mütevelli Heyeti Presidents out there (a few YÖK employees, too) that would not be too unhappy if Tony Hoca “disappeared” or just started sleeping with the fishes (shock-horror).

Or, perhaps…I just get eaten by Zombies

Zombie Grammar In Use

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Those grandkids of mine might grow up (in canım Türkiyem, of course) with a wonderful degree of control over their mother-tongue…but be not so hot in their grand-daddy’s tongue.

Heck, they might even have to go though Hazırlık for a few months…

Hazırlık Mob (Proficiency Test)

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As I suggested in my last postall is not well in the state of “hazırlık” – apathy and lack of interest in the most important medium of global communication on the part of many hazırlık students, has evolved into a zombie-like pandemic! 

Bloody hell – just typing those words scared the beejeebers outta me…

Hocam will this be on the test 

The Ottoman Empire was once described as the sick man of Europe – today, it is Hazırlık that is being described in similar terms:

Hazırlık (sick man of HEd) ver 01

In truth…all of HigherEd in canım Türkiyem…needs a check-up!

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However, rather than help “fix” this very real problem – there is many a faculty lecturer, a head of department, a dean (or Vice Rector…even) within our so-called English-medium universities that would love us all to believe this (perhaps to cover the fact that their own English language skills are not that great or that they are still “delivering” English-medium “courses” in Turkish – of course, all down to the fact that the Hazırlık “Team” taught them nowt)!

These critical hazırlık stakeholders” (many of whom do not even know where the hazırlık building is) just can’t get enough of passing-the-buck – or playing…

Blame Game (TG ver)

 …you know how it goes, yes?

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You also know the question that always gets asked…first!

Who is to blame

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Will they never LEARN?

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We could, of course, point all those fingers at the students themselves. I mean it’s not as if they don’t give us enough reasons.

Reasons, I might say, are all reinforced by the things many hazırlık teachers have been overheard sayingthunkingagain and again!

Kids today

Go on! Raise your hand, if you have NEVER said one of these…

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The parents?

Yes, they started all this…

Pointing at the belly

…and dragged their kids up to be all the things they never could…be…afterall!

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There is no shortage of “targets” for our fingers – just look at how many we have in both Hazırlık…and the post-Hazırlık world (remember guys…there is a life after the proficiency exam – before, too)!

The TARGETS

…and, let’s not forget those pesky trouble-makers – Teacher Trainers!

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BUT…

Hang on there

Weren’t we saying something about…a 21C LEARNing Culture?

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How does this “finger-pointing” fit in with a climate of collaboration… – and what were those other thingimejigs we all say we want to see in our institutions?

21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

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Heck, if we look at our websites – we ALREADY have them…ALL!

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If we really believe that this type of LEARNing Culture is who we arewhat we need – is there “room” for the BLAME GAME?

NO

Sorry about that full stop…beating off Zombies here!

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Call me a “dreamer” (I take that as a compliment, BTW)!

Call me a “fool” (Mmmm, this one…not so much)!

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Is it just me…acaba…that thunks…

Different QUESTIONS

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A good start is this one:

Rather than (Peter Block)

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Every single “stakeholder” in every single university across canım Türkiyem has, in some way, contributed to the pandemic spread of the Lise5 Syndrome – even the parents (and those Vice Rectors I mentioned).

And, you know what?

I’m guessing many other English-medium universities around the globe…have their own strain of the Zombie virus we have been looking at.

You can take that to the bank…

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b

THUNKing a wee bit differently…is the key!

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If we could just get to that first “question flip”, we might have a chancewe might survive!

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Hey, you never know…we could then perhaps ask a few other questions:

Perhaps then (Peter Block)

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That having been said…

Give LIFE a SHAKE (Ian Gilbert)

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…maybe, we can just keep “living” with the “walking dead”!

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NOTE from the CBO

This post is a “potted” (and updated) version of a mini-dizi I did back in May 2013 (for all you busy, busy folk). If you want to take a closer look (and consider even more “thunking questions” for the challenge that is hazırlık here in Turkey, take a look at the following posts:

What if…

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Our Schools, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, The Paradigm Debate on 17/09/2013 at 4:44 pm

What if 08 (WWZ Poster) TG ver

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Yes, Rosie! I love my Zombies, too…

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What if…?

Imagine for a second…we changed the way we thunk about what goes on (or should go on) in our classrooms.

You know…

What if 01

…did a bit of a swap!

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Not only in what we thunk…but also in how we talk about what we thunk.

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Would the world come to an end, acaba? Would the Zombie hordes that tormented Brad Pitt and his ever-so-sweet movie family over the Summer…move into our cities, suburbs and schools?

I know, I know…the zombies have already taken our Ministries, our School Boards, our “Reform” Agenda – but Brad did “win” out in the end…did he not?

By fighting on the “front line”!

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Many of us have already taken the first step. I mean…we have been asking:

What if 03

…even though we might not like the term “business”!

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AND…we already kinda recognise that…

What if 04

LEARNing is sooooooo much bigger…

…and something we (as TEACHers) cannot (however much we may want to) do on behalf of our students.

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Nope!

Brad kisses a zombie

No Zombie apocalypse!

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I mean…a few simple questions is all that it takes to get us there:

What if 02

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Mmmm – ouch! But, a nice “ouch”…

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Hey, here’s a thunk…what about if all TEACHers-In-Training (you know, those lovely TEACHers-To-Be) had these questions at the heart of their “curriculum”…lecturers that “felt” these questions in their bones…and “walked their talk”.

I wonder what impact this might have on these TEACHers when they get to “do business” – in their own classrooms?

Pretty much the same in the case of humanities – …what if we had humanities educators that (instead of teaching their students “about” books or what so-and-so “meant” in lines 14-15 on page 69) help their students to LEARN about life, work and themselves…”through” reflecting on books!

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Afterall…

What if 05

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Hey, just a thunk

What if 06

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The alternative, I fear, is waiting for those other Zombies to come up with the next:

What if 07

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And, this time…Brad is not around to save us!

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THUNKS…for Teachers (this time)!

In Adult Learners, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 27/07/2013 at 8:26 am

Teacher THUNKS 01

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A short while back I did a couple of posts on “THUNKS”:

…and highlighted the great little book from Ian Gilbert  –  The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!

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A lot of you seemed to like this notion of THUNKingas any TEACHer worth her salt should. One of my friends also suggested that I read the follow-up book that Ian also did… – there was another?

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As it happened, I had actually bought that one , too – The Book of Thunks – but as I was moving house (I have done this soooooo many times over the last 17-18 years). The book remained packed…and it was not until I moved to big, bad İstanbul last month (and to a new house…again) that I re-discovered it.

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As was the case with the first, it was chokablock with some great thunkssome of them about LEARNing:

Teacher THUNKS 03 (three from Ian Gilbert)

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The problem was…as I worked my way through the thunks, very few of them were directly linked to TEACHers. This is probably because Ian had set up this book as a set of dinner-party conversation starters – designed to annoy the bloody hell out of unwanted guests, no doubt.

So…I decided to adapt a few of them – like the one in the very first image of this post.

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Now, that one might not make your brain go “ouch”…but it sent shivers down my back! Go on…THUNK it over for a minute – and then ask your “boss” what she thunks!

I dare YOU!

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I started by playing with this one:

Teacher THUNKS 02

OMG! That’s a bit serious, Tony…I work in the Gulf!

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Here’s another:

Teacher THUNKS 04

Now, this is a topical one!

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What about this one:

Teacher THUNKS 05

İsa, Meryem and Yusuf! Tony…

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Try this one:

Teacher THUNKS 06

Now, that’s a conundrum!

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Hey, try this – with a few TEACHer-pals:

Teacher THUNKS 07

Bet they never RT your tweets again!

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This one is for any TEACHer that has taught in a Turkish primary or high school – to lighten things a little:

Teacher THUNKS 08

I thought they were both “dead“!

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I thought they would all be good for TEACHer pot-luck parties (most of us can’t afford to host a dinner party).

If your brain is not hurting too much, drop us a comment with your reflecto-THUNKS!

Enjoy…

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If you like these THUNKS….and want to do some of your own – why not pop over to www.thunks.co.uk and “add” a few yourself!

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Bedtime Reading: The Book of Thunks

Who will my students BECOME after they LEARN with me?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 18/07/2013 at 9:25 am

TEACHing is not LEARNing

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This little image is one of the very first I did for the blog – almost 3 years back!

It’s been downloaded so many times – hey, some people have even conntacted me and asked me for “permission” to download it (yes, there are many nice guys out there…gals, too). Others have suggested that I add a word or two…we could probably add many!

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Not that you need me to tell you…but I was kinda stating the obvious when I did this – and, I was also linking it to two other questions that TEACHers ask themselves on a Monday morningor Sunday night:

The toss up (LEARNing vs TEACHing)

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Very different, aren’t they?

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It’s not really a toss-upit’s a choice!

I’ve found that the TEACHers who ask the second question “do business” very differently to those that ask the first. I’ve also “confessed” (and recently re-booted the post in which I made that confession) that I used to ask the first far more than I ever asked the second.

So…how do we get from that second question to the one I have used at the title of this post?

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Well, I thunk it’s a question of what matters…or, to be more specific, what we thunk matters…and what we do to breathe life into that thunk.

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Go back to that first image, for a minute…I was suggesting that there are 11 things that are really important in allthingsLEARNing.

If you had to choose 3 of them, what would they be?

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  • FUN, perhaps? It’s important, for sure…but it might not make the top 3, yes?
  • What about REFLECTION? Yes, that one might be in there.
  • FEEDBACK? The LEARNing lubegotta have that in my top 3!

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Or, maybe, it’s EXAM PASSES!

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For me, top of the list would be:

Change (Margaret Mead quote) Ver 02

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Come on! Only 18 words there…you know the ONE!

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Need another clue?

Change (David Thoreau quote)

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It’s in there TWICE

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OK…I know you have got it by now – but I just wanted to throw in this one, too

Change (Maya Angelou quote) Ver 03

I know, I know…but I did take all that time to prepare it!

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Besides…who doesn’t love the She-Hulk? I bet Maya Angelou does…

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Change (Leo Buscaglia quote)

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LEARNing has to involve change…change in the way the LEARNer thinks, feels and acts.

It’s not just about LEARNing “stuff” or it shouldn’t be. The “stuff” we are creating these days is growing at exponential rates…and if our goal, as TEACHers, is to simply TEACH this stuff, we might as well just pack up and go home – and leave it all to the tech we now have!

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This is why our questions have changed…have to change.

Just asking “What should I TEACH today”? …is a “stuff question”.

Asking “What should my students LEARN today”? is an improvement…and, asking “What should my students be able to do with what they LEARN today”? – is even better!

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However, asking:

Who will my students BECOME

…is a whole new ball-game.

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A ball-game that scares the crap out of many TEACHers!

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Indeed, many TEACHers I have discussed this question with tell me it’s an impossible question – especially those that work in the ELT “racket”. They tell me that primary TEACHers (even university TEACHers) have a shot at this – they are well-placed…they have enough stuff to TEACH…they can shape minds (and souls)!

A friend of mine once told me, “I’m beginning to think that all that stuff about you being a LEARNatic is true…Come on! I’m just a bloody language TEACHer…I TEACH grammar…sorry, language communication skills…I help kids with the 4 skills…and vocabulary”!

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Read that again…

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My friend is, by the way, a great TEACHer. But, he is notgreat” because of his knowledge of grammar…nor because he knows how to TEACH the 4 skills (rather than just “practice” them using a silly textbook).

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but...

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…look at how he describes himself!

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I wanted to slap him upside his head when he said this! Instead…I think I made him pay the bill!

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Why do so many TEACHers put themselves down in this way?

Maybe it’s because this is what institutions have LEARNed themI don’t know!

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Change (Seth Godin quote)

My friend is a great TEACHer because he really knows how to “connect” with his students…and because the quality of his interactions with his “kids” allow him to make a real difference to the way those kids think, feel and act – and I ain’t only talking about GRAMMAR!

You see…it doesn’t really matter “what” we TEACH…what discipline we work in, yani! Afterall, none of us really “TEACHes courses”, do we?

We TEACH kids, teenagers, young adults…and even old farts like me!

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When I had this discussion with my old pal, it took a long time to convince him (what the heck…he was paying the bill)! Seth Godin had not published his latest book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

I wish he had! Perhaps, we’d have fewer TEACHers saying the type of things my friend was saying.

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Seth’s book has also led me to add another little question to my list:

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Who will I BECOME (as a TEACHer)

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…far more important for us as EDUcators, yes?

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Afterall, we (also) need to remember the words of Ellen Hocam:

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Change (Ellen Glasgow quote)

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Wonderful BEDtime reading for every TEACHer (and their dogs):

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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

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When does a THOUGHT turn into a THUNK?

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 21/06/2013 at 9:57 pm

When it’s used by a TEACHer!

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Looking differently (Gilbert quote)

And…if we don’t do it, who will?

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I once heard a very wise woman (might have been a man) say “The raising of kids is far too important…to leave to parents”!

OK – that was another “fib”…just made it up!

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A few days back, I did a wee post based on one of my favourite books – The Little Book of THUNKS – by Ian Gilbert.

A couple of you asked me to elaborate a little…so, at the risk of breaching Ian’s IP rights, here you go (BUT, do try and get a copy of the book…it is lovely)!

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What I didn’t tell you (then) is that Ian is a TEACHer.

His whole book and it’s wonderful 260 thunks (I actually think there maybe 264 in there…but let’s not quibble) fell out of his work with Matthew Lipman and his P4C Programme

Go on, have a guess…

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P = ?

“4” is easy-peasy

C = ?

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Philosophy for Children!

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What a wonderful bloody idea…sorry…THUNK!

Ian describes how using this type of “approach” (Socratic…in essence) with this type of “content”…really allows kids to use that little creativity gene they have (you know, the one most schools try and surgically remove before graduation).

This is because THUNKS act as “thought hand grenades” (love that phrase)!

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Just look at these TWO:

THUNKS 01 and 02

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…or better – a couple that touch on SCHooling:

THUNKS 07 and 08

What kid is NOT going to have a field day with those?

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BTW – if I hear that any of you have told your kids (or young adults) that the “opposite” of LEARN is…UNlearn…I will hunt and track you down and then eat your first-born…click HERE to find out just why!

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The “trick”?

Well, programmes like P4C (or any “inquiry-based” approach) are designed to help kids “take back” their creative (and critical) thinking skills. They are designed to give students a “voice”…and, the stuff they “create” is nothing short of amazing!

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This means?

TEACHers need to throw the “grenade”…and get out of the bloody way!

Ian actually gives a wide range of “tips” for TEACHers (in the book)…tips that I have boiled down and ranted about on the little ole blog (from time to time):

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TEACH less CONSULT more

You know I am “right”…

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I want to say…a CONSULTing TEACHer can often do a far better job than a TEACHing TEACHerand I’m trying to predict the thunk that might be making a noise in your heads:

Consultants WHY

Sounds like the “job” most of us “signed up” for…YES?

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Take a look at a couple more thunks from Ian:

THUNKS 03 and 04

Are you shiriously telling me that Pages 67-8 of the textbook are BETTER?

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OK…you don’t have to “replace” the textbook totally – but you could start more classes with thunks like these:

THUNKS 05 and 06

You know…many TEACHers already do – and they are much happier with their lot!

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It is these TEACHers that can also get to other questions

THUNKS 09

…questions that MATTER, questions that make a REAL difference!

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Hey, maybe we could even organise some evening classes for “those parentals” – now that would be progress!

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John Holt Quote8

To THUNK or not to THUNK…

In Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 17/06/2013 at 5:34 pm

Are you man made (thunk)

Does that make your brain go “ouch”!

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A lot of people ask me why I use the word thunk so often – and I do…sorry!

I’ve even had people leave a little note on my laptop (after a workshop session or presentation) saying things like this:

THUNK (post it)

Ahhh, that’s so sweet!

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The term THUNK is not mine…well, it is (it belongs to everyone now), actually – after Ian Gilbert gifted it to us in his wonderful book The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!

…way back in 2007.

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Some of Ian’s questions are just so much fun

3 Thunks (Ian Gilbert)

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I think I found the book a year later, when I was in Australia.

I used it so much with advanced LEARNers…and people who wanted to take their (already great) language skills to the next level…that I wore out my first copy! But, even younger adults just love them, too.

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Neyse, when I started the blog…it just fell into my bloggery lexicon – but my questions were not necessarily designed to make anyone’s brain go “ouch”.

I guess I just wanted more of us to “thunk”…in verb form!

…and, I wanted to build my blog on educational issues and questionsEDUthunks, if you will.

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You know, questions like:

EDUthunk 01

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Yeah…I know, my questions are a lot longer!

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This one is not too bad:

EDUthunk 02

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And, what about from that lastmini-dizi I did:

Motivation THUNK

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My head is still “ouching” from that one!

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These “ouches” are good for us all – afterall, is it not questions that drive all our LEARNing? 

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LEARNing (Adams quote) Ver 02

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Ian tells us that “THUNK” is also the “noise that the brain makes when it starts to think about a thunk“! I loved that…and I listen to my own head whenever I get a thunk down on the blog…

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Are there any EDUnoises your head is making today?

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LEARN to “SPEAK” İngilizce…in 15 hours (maybe even 2)!

In ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 28/12/2012 at 11:02 am

Mmmm…this one is gonna get me in trouble, againain’t it?

School (Pink Floyd)

But, not sure with whom…this time!

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Recently, I’ve been thunking a lot about “successful language LEARNing” – you might have seen a couple of the recent posts I have been doing… “bouts of bloggery” that I have been trying to squeeze in between my bouts of “ferry-hopping” with my big, little girl (and her mummy) here in big, bad Istanbul!

Yes, I am a “rovving blogger” for a couple of weeks!

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When ELL professionals think about these things – “SUCCESSful LEARNers” that is – we tend to turn to the “experts” – experts like Jack Richards:

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 10.34.27

…BTW, this is a “video-based” post (sorry, should have said this before)!

So, bookmark it – if you do not have around 35 minutes to check out all the lovely videos I’m planning to use…and “share” in this post.

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I love Jack…I do! He LEARNed me so much when I was a young(er) TEACHer… despite his matching “shirts n’ glasses” (Sorry, Jack…read that first sentence again)!

If you listen (and watch) very carefully…he says a lot of very smart things. Smart things he LEARNed from one of his students. A lot of smart things that (even more) smart TEACHersknow“…but sadly do not always “apply” to their classroom TEACHing.

Watch the video again…go on (it’s not that long)! Ask yourself:

How many of the things that Jack’s student “does”…do you “effectively” (that’s a key word here) build into the classroom LEARNing opportunities YOU develop for YOUR own LEARNers?

…and, I do not mean what you simply “tell” your students is “a good idea”!

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Essentially, what is at the heart of Jack’s “advice” is the BIG idea in Lauren B. Resnick’s seminal article From Aptitude to Effort: A New Foundation for Our Schools– or herThird Possibility“:

“…that EFFORT actually creates ABILITY, that people can become smart by working hard at the right kinds of LEARNing tasks – has never been taken seriously in America or indeed in any European society, although it is the guiding assumption of EDUcation institutions in societies with a Confucian tradition.”

(Resnick, L. “From Aptitude to Effort: A New Foundation for Our Schools.” Daedalus, Fall 1995, 124(4), 55-62).

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As Lauren pointed out  (almost 20 years ago – WTH will we ever LEARN to listen to folk?) – the “secret” to LEARNing (LEARNing languages even) is really all about the “EFFORT”.

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not a TEACHer’s effort…the LEARNer’s (own) EFFORT!

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OK, and to be fair, Lauren does tell us that “expert instruction” (along with clear expectations; fair evaluation; payoffs for success; the time needed to meet LEARNing expectations) and “the right kinds of LEARNing tasks” – are all very important!

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The thing isme (still) thunks…we TEACHers so rarely ask LEARNers what the “right kind” of LEARNing tasks are!

Carry the Can (really really TG ver)

And, while the voices of experts, like Jack and Lauren may be good for TEACHer LEARNing – we really need to ask why it is that so little seems to “change” in the way we TEACHers (and our institutions) “do” the “business” of LEARNing.

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I have said before:

truth 02

…it still is!

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Maybe, and this is just a shot in the dark here, we need different ways to promote both TEACHer and LEARNer LEARNing – and maybe “expert” instruction from “experts”…is not the way…for LEARNers!

For example, take a look at this little video:

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Wouldn’t you just LOVE to have 20-25 “clones” of Alex in every class?

Maybe not! We already have enough TEACHers on poor salaries, 11-month contracts…and no benefits!

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And, if you have a bit of time on your hands, this one, too:

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Yeah, I get suspicious of these “promo-type” videos, too!

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BUT, there’s a lot of food-for-thought in there…a LOT of food-for-thunking!

I’m guessing…students might “feel” more…about these types of “materials” – the “trick” is for classroom EDUcators to turn them into “REAL LEARNing tasks”!

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I’ll be honest (when am I ever NOT?), as an EDUcatorsome of these things still scare the beejeebers out of me!

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You mean I have to forget all “my” years of “TEACHing experience”?  

Wot? I have to discard all those “masters” courses I took (and am still paying for)?

You mean I have to re-thunk my “perspective” on TEACHing?

YES (red exlam tilted)

OK – maybe NOT totally!

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…but, considering our “success” levels (not just in Turkey…around the globe) – guys, we have to “do” something “different”. And, more importantly, we have to help our LEARNers “detox” and “head into the LIGHT” (no, not “that” light – the light of “REAL LEARNing”)!

We just have to LISTEN more!

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Last week, I was introduced to a young Turkish guy – named Alpay. He was a student a few years back – studying American Culture and Literature. He got so frustrated that his “high school” and “prep school” experiences were just not doing it for him…he could not “speak”…and his TEACHers…were just not helping him…at all!

He couldn’t (like Alex) travel around the globe with his parents. He did not have a great deal of spare cash (he also had to do a 2-hr commute to school everyday – and another 2 hrs back)…but he came up with his own “solution”.

He managed to scrape together enough dosh to get himself a second-hand iPodnot an iPadnot an iPhonean iPod! He began downloading…music, TV shows, movies…and “dedicated” his 4-hrs on the bus to watching and listening to his “collection”!

The results “spoke” for themselves…when he chatted with me and my friends.

I was impressed! VERY impressed!

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His “efforts“… his “wants” and “needs” were met through an iPod…and a bit ‘o time on an Istanbul bus – not a classroom!

OK – I can hear some of you mumbling (under your breath): “He’s special, Tony – don’t be so naive”!

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Every LEARNer is “special”!

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This morning…I showed all these videos (and the rough draft of this post) to my big, little girl…she is a student and is getting ready to graduate this year.

I trust her “thunks” in matters of allthingslearning…like most students (as opposed to her TEACHers) …she is the only one that truly “knows” about “her LEARNing”.

I asked her to “rank” the videos in terms of the “impact” they might have on Language LEARNers. You know what she said first?

I want to “meet” this Alpay guy…I want to “talk” to him!

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LEARNers do NOT LEARN because they “STUDY” a lot…

OMG (TG ver 4 blog)

…they LEARN because they “WANT” to!

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The (classroom) TEACHer’s “job” (then) is…to “co-create” a classroom environment that places this at the very forefront of LEARNers‘ minds…and not by (simply) “telling” them that “study” and “hard work” will always “win out“…

…or coming up with “systems” that “force” them to do what they do NOT “want” to do!

There…I said it!

Students are sick to death (they are, you know…just ask a few of them) of TEACHerspreaching at” them (from the “pulpit” at the front of the classroom) about the virtue of “study”.

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Time to LEARN

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“Tell me. I may not get it, I’m sure to forget it.
Show me. I may get it, I’ll remember it for a little while.
Have me do it. I’ll understand it, it may stick for awhile.”

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I found this “upgraded” version of that old Confucian chestnut this morning (Thx Mohan) – my big, little girl wanted to qualify this a wee bit:

Let me “TALK” to someone that “knows”!

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Could we, as TEACHers, “do” something “more” with these thunksa New Year’s resolution or three, perhaps?

Questions, questions, questions…(Guest Post by Laurence Raw)

In Adult Learners, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning on 08/11/2012 at 7:55 pm
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Well, give a man an inch…on a blog, and he’ll want a bloody mile!
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A couple of days ago, Laurence did a super guest-post for us. He must have known it was pretty well-received…’cos he asked me to give him another one.
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Not a “rant” this time…but one of the most honest posts I have read for a while on “real LEARNing”!
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So, I’m going to shut up…and let him tell the story.
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Are you sitting comfortably?
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I’ve been fortunate enough to take on a class of graduate learners – the first time I’ve done so in many years.  It’s a pleasurable experience, but also a tough one.
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The reason is this: I’m continually being asked similar questions by learners.  “Is this right …?” “Am I doing it right?” “Do you approve of what I’m doing?” “Can I do it better?”
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My stock answer to such questions is: “I don’t know.  What do you think?”
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However…this often leads to even more confusion.
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I recently came across a site explaining why learners find Top-Down Learning so congenial: it’s because they are “given the ‘Big Picture’ first, and then, maybe, the details of what’s involved in the process.” This may sound acceptable at first, but how do we know precisely what the “Big Picture” is? Is it defined by the educator, the institution, the learner, or a combination of all three?
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My graduate learners seem to be in no doubt: it’s the institution and the educator who determine their agenda
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In my spare time, I devote a couple of hours each week to teaching my thirteen-year-old niece.  Hitherto she has found the task of learning English a difficult one: many of the activities assigned to her have proved difficult for her to complete, and her grades have been correspondingly low.  However this summer she made the effort to improve herself through immersion: watching films, reading books, and trying to converse with as many people in English as she could.
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The results have been fascinating: now she is more than happy to communicate in English, but more importantly, she wants to ask questions – about my life, about her own life, and the different ways in which we were brought up.
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Asking questions is the key to all learning.
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Children learn by asking questions. New recruits learn by asking questions. It is the simplest and most effective way of learning. Brilliant thinkers never stop asking questions because they know that this is the best way to gain deeper insights. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has said: “We run this company on questions, not answers.’ He knows that if you keep asking questions you can keep finding better answers.  
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My thirteen-year-old niece has understood that asking questions lies at the foundation of improving her language abilitiesInstead of completing endless assignments, ask a question. Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire. Questions help us to teach as well as to learn.
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Top-Down Learning may be safe for my graduate learners, but it discourages them from asking questions.  Everything is nicely prepared and packaged for them, just like packets of frozen food in a supermarket.  The only way I can encourage them to learn is to ask questions of them, and encourage them to ask questions of themselves in response
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Maybe, just maybe…I should get my thirteen-year-old niece to come and give them a lesson in learning.  If she had sufficient self-confidence, I would certainly do so.  It would be an interesting reversal of accepted wisdom: the further you advance up the educational ladder, the more you are supposed to ‘know.’
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I wonder how it would work in practice?
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Laurence Raw
(aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)
Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey.
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com

3 BIG, little questions…for TEACHers

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 06/11/2012 at 6:28 am

Yep, they are “little”…but they are quite “BIG”, too!

BUT…

…they are not the questions I was getting at in the title of this little post (and it will be little…promise).

The questions I was thunking about are:

Let us know!