There is a a system of popular psychology called Transactional Analysis (TA). It is based on the idea that one’s behavior and social relationships reflect an interchange between parental (critical and nurturing), adult (rational), and childlike (intuitive and dependent) aspects of one’s personality. All people, even children, have these three aspects of personality within them.
Administrators generally come from the parent aspect of their personality, judging and criticizing. It is such a bad model because it makes other people in schools, kids and teachers, feel somehow “not good enough”. And yet the admins (and parents) like those attacking Tina right now are the ones who are wrong, using the power of their positions to attack innocent, well-meaning teachers who actually grasp how people learn languages. What an odd situation we are all in!
Teachers mostly hang out in class in their critical parent. But the most successful teachers and admins and parents are those like Robert Harrell who hang out in class in the nurturing parent, the adult (to impart information), and the intuitive and joyful child aspects of their personalities. If we ourselves act from the “critical parent” aspect of our personality, as most grammar teachers do, our students suffer and don’t learn much of anything. But if we are able to instruct our kids from the three transactional aspects of our personalities described above, our kids can learn a lot.
Today, it is only the adult aspect of our human personalities that defines and informs language instruction in schools. Doing this keeps things safe. The kids are fed the information as if from a computer and they are expected to process it and return it to the teacher from the adult, rational, emotionless part of their personalities. Thus, language instruction resembles a computer when you walk in the classroom. Yuck! No fun! The only problem with A-A interactions is that we can’t learn a language that way. Only when a student is being nurtured by a parental voice in class, while being allowed to hang out in class in the intuitive “child” aspect of their personality, can their adult (the computer) learn a language. That’s how it works with languages, unlike all other subjects that children are taught in schools.
So we have and have had for decades a huge problem in foreign language education in our country in that children, in order to learn the language, need to “play” in a safe and nurturing input based language environment. Children need to be permitted to listen to and read the language without focusing on any form/words/structure, just playing and letting it all go into the unconscious mind where it turns magically into authentic speech and writing over long periods of time, long after enough listening and reading input have been provided.
Language teachers who use comprehensible input are trained to hang out, in terms of Transactional Analysis, in their nurturing parent, their adult, and their intuitive child. The same is true for the student. It is a big game where all the best aspects of the human personality meet in a joyful environment. But look at schools. The teachers in class have no joy, they are in the critical parent and the children are in the dependent child aspects of their personalities. It’s a lose-lose situation, where CI classrooms are, once the old shackles of the negative parent and dependent child are taken off, win-win places.
The problem we face is educating kids, parents and admins how to get out of the negative parents and dependent child aspects of their personalities and get real. But the shackles of the past will come off. We just can’t give up. We have to believe in joy and the potential of CI and we must face the pain of transition that we are in now. With each story, we become more real and authentic human beings.