Friday, March 27, 2009

All That Shit on The Ranch Helps Things Grow

Despite the shit managers, my time at BTM all turned out rather well in academic and career development terms. The course I wrote and led was a great success. More importantly, it helped to clarify a concept that’s been idling around in my wee head for nearly a year now.

This week, back at the Cowboy Ranch, I’ve been teaching general English, using Language Leader. I deliberately didn’t do anything fancy with wikis or wtf, I just went straight from the book, to see how it felt after the task based learning of the Aeronautical University course. It felt easy-to-do, but it was shite teaching. For example, you have a topic such as employment, and the students have to speak about what makes a good employer, in pairs. Just imagine it, you have to talk to someone about a topic which is probably of no interest whatsoever.

So, the Big Idea is TBL, but in a framework course, whereby the teacher is given guidance, but has to go away and find their own materials, tailored to the students needs and interests, and, if appropriate, stuffed with PARSNIP.

Good teachers are doing this now, of course, just as they were doing communicative teaching when the paradigm was grammar-translation. What I’m going to be suggesting is that this becomes the norm, part of teacher training, that we just plain stop using these poxy commercial texts.

The Aeronautical University course will form the basis of a research paper for the MA Dissertation. And then I’m going to put together a PhD proposal along similar lines, (see where the MA research has led me). And maybe eventually write the framework course.

Which leads me to the other decision I made in this miserable past week on the Ranch: stick with Academia. It’s an Ivory Snake-pit to be sure, but it IS ivory. I’m going to use the old noggin.