A Message I Shared with Someone

We must push our profession forward right now. At stake is not just the self-esteem of millions of children (which the traditional ways of language instruction did not honor, preferring to focus instead on intellectual achievement), but also at stake is the fabric of the countries of the world and the ways in which they interact.

Growing awareness of how we are all different will ultimately lead to a greater awareness of the common humanity we share as human beings trying to make a go of it here on planet Earth. Our profession, long the red-headed stepsister, will soon take its place in the “important” subjects offered in our school buildings.

We must reach our children so that they can feel good about themselves as language learners, but also so that they can then grow up to be part of the solution of repairing the torn (shredded) fabric that exists now between countries so that we can all love and embrace each other as the sisters and brothers that we really are.

In that way, our profession can finally reach its potential, which is vastly underrated in importance and potential to bring a healing balm to our world. Indeed, the profession of language teaching is at this moment just beginning a most profound change that will last for centuries in service to humanity. It’s time for that to happen.

Change feels possible now, for there has been such intractable suffering by language teachers and students for so many centuries. Now we language teachers can, newly focused on the well-being of all our students and on their hope in life, finally find ways to dislodge and cast off the shackles of our old misplaced focus on intellectual achievement (which favors the few and excludes the many). We can do so in favor of a way to teach that is centered in the heart and in respect for other people, other cultures and all the different-looking people found here. All deserve respect. All deserve respect. All deserve success.

In a spiritual sense, and this is my own personal belief about what is happening now in our profession, it almost seems as if God has “had it” with racism in schools, in our society. I see the entire social situation of today as being a time when He is now working actively to break that racism, and who in the profession of education can address that issue if not we in language education?

In the past, there has been in language teachers a certain very visible mindset of “I am teaching so well,” or “My students got the highest scores”, or “The way I teach is the best” kind of thinking.

But the new kind of language teacher of the future in this more heart-centered approach (where the kids are more important than the false academic achievement of the few) will create classes in which all children are valued as human beings, simply as human beings, without having to first be able to conjugate from memorization the verb “to have” in the pluperfect subjunctive.

Language students of the future will be able to simply be themselves in an accepting community in which all succeed and in which the only thing that the children have to do in class is focus on the message, as per the research.

In this way, all children in our classes will experience such success that they will become life-long language learners and the effect on humanity will be a rapprochement of countries which can only serve the greater good, so that the few no longer dominate Earth’s business.

The old way is of the ego, the new way is about self-effacing love and service to others.

It is our own bravery in the face of the terrible way we used to teach, which was so divisive and destructive to the vast majority of language students, that will bring about this change in WL language instruction. Successive generations will break and dislodge the bindings of the old thinking to welcome in a new, refreshed and much happier way of teaching languages.

Our work, then, far from being a burdensome way of making a living, will very soon be perceived by others in education as a light and happy one. People walking around in our part of the school building will notice a sense of energy and lighthearted humor not to be found in other parts of the building, where the success of students is limited to the few and the privileged, as is happening even in our profession now.

This new change will be of profound importance in the overall scheme of things in our society, and it will help others in a way that the old, limited way of teaching a language could not.

It’s just one big and very real paradigm shift. We’re not imaging it. It’s real and it’s happening now.



4 thoughts on “A Message I Shared with Someone”

  1. Danielle Palmiotto

    Ben–it really is destiny. I came to the PLC to get some inspiration about kids in ability to focus on the message. My 8th graders as a whole just miss the message. I read this just now, aftter the class – so thank you for once again taking the words right out of my mouth.

    1. Yes Danielle. It ain’t nothing but a thing, as they say. So much ego out there. I’ve NEVER had success with eighth graders that have been previously contaminated by other teachers. I don’t use that word contaminated sheepishly. I mean it. They got contaminated by worksheets and once that happens there isn’t a damn thing we can do. This Ultimate CI work is so different, so rich and pure, so inspiring and so full of potential that we need not do anything but keep ourselves focused on getting better at it and damn the torpedos. Looking forward to seeing you in the June 19th class. (No charge when you retake a class.) I can’t promise you your artist job back but maybe. I’ll never forget your image of the two men dancing on the beach from last summer’s May training. I’ll go look for it and maybe post it here.

        1. Danielle Palmiotto

          I have it and I’ll send it and i would be happy to be the artist but just as happy being part of the class again. This past spring I didn’t see you all but I will never forget what you and the Invisibles have done for me. You transformed me and going through that brief period of dread has made me stronger and more confident that the Invisibles is the best. I can’t wait to see y’all again. Looking forward to June 19th.

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