Brad Patterson, aka @brad5patterson, asked people to choose a quote that best fits their teaching philosophy. After no small amount of pondering, and hoping that Erich Fromm would come up with the goods, here are a few wise quotations that apply to mine (alas, no Fromm). You may think I’m being greedy choosing more than one, but that’s just it, truth (if it exists) is the sum of many factors…….
1 Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system. Bruce Lee.
This is the top of my list. In order to allow your students to express themselves or, in flowery terms, to become their English-speaking selves as they perceive in their mind’s eye, THEY should be priority, not the methodology (or coursebook or exam or set of I can statements or…). Whether you’re a dogme teacher like me, an audiolinguist, a PPP chap, a Silent Method practitioner…… whatever……. you should never lose sight of your student and his/her person. Be prepared to be flexible; in fact, be water my friend…
2 Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The worst thing in a classroom is complacency, especially from a teacher. If you don’t love what you do, don’t enjoy your lessons, don’t believe in your students and in yourself, how can you expect your students to? Enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily mean being totally Wacky-do, but it should be almost tangible in your ‘aura’. When you lose your enthusiasm, start thinking about taking a course, trying something new or maybe a career change.
3 I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not. Kurt Cobain
Authenticity. Be true to yourself, be honest to your students. Rapport, belonging, connection, presence – they have so much to do with being fair and honest. And anyway, teaching is not a popularity contest; teens in particular are not looking for a friend in their teacher, but a model, an adult who won’t let them down, make them feel stupid or ‘less’ than others and who’s sincere.
4 A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird? Traditional
If you shut up and listen, students are more likely to try to speak. If you shut up and observe, you’re more likely to ‘read’ your students. Particularly teenagers. Show you are listening, that you have time for them, that you noticed, that you’re interested, don’t turn the classroom into The Teacher Show. Give them writing journals and/or blogs and respond to content not to language errors. Allow them to ask questions, while you listen and think – you don’t need to stuff them with info; after all, education means bringing out, not putting in……
5 Stop, look, yes, listen to your heart
Hear what it’s sayin’ Written by Bell & Creed, sung by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye
Be informed. Think about why you do things the way you do them, don’t just jump on bandwagons or follow the herd/school policy/teachers notes without thinking – whether in using things or criticising their use. Be true to yourself and your values; be true to your students; know why you’re doing what you do or why you’re using what you’re using, whether photocopies, technology, an approach, a coursebook, your own voice rather than your students’. Be wise.
6 What a swell party this is. Cole Porter
Speaks for itself