The second daughter is doing better than her older sister. She’s going to college now but I’m afraid the loans Mo took out will break him. My point in sharing this is that I am amazed how out of touch we are with the incredible amount of suffering U.S. teens are experiencing right now. Families are in deep crisis and we don’t seem to want to talk about that and how it might affect how we view our roles as educators.
Maybe our kids need more of our human attention in class. Maybe they need, in class, to have a more personal relationship with us and with their peers. Maybe they need more human interaction and less language interaction going in our classes. Maybe we need to figure out ways to get our instruction compelling enough so that a real community forms in our classrooms instead of all of us accepting the old mantle of stressed out language teacher whose real goals are the ACTFL proficiency levels.
Screw the ACTFL proficiency levels. Screw circling. Screw target structures. Screw making our kids read books that they don’t want to read. Screw the idea that we can’t train young teachers without a lot of hoopla. And screw the old kind of PQA where the focus is only apparently on the kids and is really on tricking them into getting more reps on targets so that they will understand the story. They will understand the story because they are interested in it, not because we force them into conversing with us about three certain words of our choosing. No wonder PQA used to be such a pain in the ass for so many teachers.
Maybe we can use language in our classes as a bridge between people and not as a focus of study in and of itself. Maybe by undervaluing the pain our kids are in, acting like it’s not there, we are missing something. Maybe we need to stop jumping up on our high horses each day to think about how many words our students know and getting them to read so much when many of them have mostly only interacted with is a screen up to the point we get them. Maybe we need need to turn the word volume down.
I like the way Beniko Mason told me the other night in a skype call that if the kids at the end of the year don’t know enough words, they can learn more the next year. Maybe we are getting too carried away with the new TPRS/CI hot air balloon that we are forgetting why we are teachers.