He Said To Become Like Children

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12 thoughts on “He Said To Become Like Children”

  1. I cannot wait until next year when a new group of kids who thinks that French and Spanish is supposed to be hard work, they will find that it is actually a fun, relaxing experience of being in a group that has its own routines, its own way of operating, its own characters and stories and heroes and villains and inside jokes and themes that come back again and again.

    In the whole NT versus T debate what I think is not being heard, so far, is the uniqueness we can access when basing our curriculum on the personal visions of the kids in class, their own particular concerns and creativity and obsessions and interests. I tried to do this when I was targeting, since the personalization aspect of TPRS was what drew me to it in the first place. Creating and having fun together. But I was trying to personalize certain parts of the language and now I am just trying to personalize THE language, just simply to bring the language to life, to talk about something interesting to the students.

    To me it is so freeing to be able to do this. It makes me happier, it gives me less stress. It seems more like running a clubhouse than a class. I say that with no shame. I have always wanted to run a clubhouse. It is the French and Spanish Clubhouse. And there is a way to make it look like school.

    1. “But I was trying to personalize certain parts of the language and now I am just trying to personalize THE language…” There is a slogan in that.

      “Personalize the whole not the parts.”
      “Give voice to the students not the task at hand”

      Other suggestions?

  2. Thanks for this, Ben. It is a great reminder while all those above me in chain of command are asking for standards based assessments and curriculum maps for next year. For everything that I end up producing as a ‘track’ or ‘assessment’ to follow, I will remember that in the end my interactions with students trump curricula and assessment. If it would fly in my district, I’d make my curriculum all about whatever my students bring to class…no agenda, no targets. It is also a humble reminder that with my peers I can’t push on them what I think is right by force, but that it is also best to approach them with the same soft heart I would approach my students with.

  3. Thank you Amy so well said. Soft heart. It makes me think of the work of Stephen and Ondrea Levine. We need to soften esp. at those teachers meetings, right? It’s all about letting the process of unfoldment happen. Eventually the curriculum will not be the dominant force in our work – the language will be. Testing won’t sting. And we’ll finally align with the national standards. And we will teach from our own personality and not all in the same, because some expert told us to. Some day.

  4. When I read about the battles (also the inner ones) many of you have to fight bc of the curriculum and admins, I can only say, you are my heroes. I don’t think I would have that strength.

  5. Many have fallen on the battlefield. It has been ugly. I feel like the knight in Monty Python who gets his four limbs chopped off by another knight whom he comes across in a forest. I’m that tired. But I keep insulting those whom I choose to insult. Else, who is going to fight for the kids if we all quit just because it’s too hard? Boo hoo. This work must be done or the children will suffer. So I will say that I fully agree with you. There are real heroes on this site, and lots of them.

    A propos:

    …when I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me….

    Fred Rogers

    1. Yes, the children are suffering through teaching that is driven by a curriculum which is based on grammar and vocab-lists!!!
      Only yesterday I had a conversation with our new helper in grade four who accompanies an inclusive child. So she experiences my way of teaching through CI. She told me that at school she very soon got the feeling she wasn’t any good at languages and she thought it was her fault. I just know there are score of adults who felt like that and still feel this way bc of an unnatural approach.
      As far as I can tell, Krashen’s work hasn’t been noticed by the teaching community or the ministry of education in Germany at all.

      1. I’m sure it hasn’t. Krashen is to those PhD’s as Jung is to Freud, in my view, in the sense that Jung went into the invisible world of dreams and symbols so he pulled the research of that time in the field of psychology into non-measurable areas (hypotheses only, not provable, “depth” psychology) and so incurred the wrath of the scholars.

        It is always that way. They have to plan and measure and not trust anything that can’t be put in the form of data and then that robot vibe shows up in instructional practices in their classroom, even in TPRS now, and the thrill of learning a language is gone. That is happening in TPRS now.

        But Tina and I have one position on that topic – fun and laughter (being thrilled in class) are the best indicators of student engagement in a foreign language classroom and just because it can’t be measured as data, that doesn’t matter a bit. Udo what do the powers in German education say about Steiner? I mean, if they don’t put his very bad ass work front and center then they are making a big mistake, in my opinion.



        1. Steiner for me was what I would call a practical-spiritual person. Some of his spiritual and especially his pedagogical writings and speeches are full of common sense to me if you are open to what can’t be measured. To tell the truth, he said he was a clairvoyant which of course can be hard or impossible to stomach.
          Having stated the above it is obvious why a person like Steiner has never been taken seriously by the establishment. And when all is said and done his curriculum for school are the children and not what the established powers need to hold up the status quo.

          1. The Invisibles do make the curriculum the children. I have often played around with the idea of going into Montessori or Waldorf education, but I could not afford to take more time and money to not work at a job and train for it, so I have tried to find a way to bring that “follow the child” approach and the Waldorf focus on imagination and myth and story into my teaching, in all the different subjects I have taught. I think I sensed in storytelling a way to bring that spirit into language teaching, and that is what motivated me to work so hard to learn Spanish and become a languages teacher. I have had several Waldorf teachers come up to me after presentations and express great appreciation for the imagination and stories that are in the Invisibles “curriculum” I showed them.

  6. Hello,
    I cant think of a better way to teach English to my beautiful 5 year olds here in Buenos Aires Argentina, using TPRS. A teacher (a good friend) once challenged me and said…. once youve tried tprs, you will never go back to your old ways of teaching English as a second language in the Kindergarten. And I never did. I cant wait to start a new story with my sweet students… Its fun, its exciting and the children blow me away every time! If you can help mevwith your tips and ideas that would be fantastic!!! I started learning about TPRS about 7 years ago and have been slowly putting it into practice. I just love it. I want to get better at it and Im open to learning more every day. My children are all spanish speakers.

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