In a recent communication with a parent there was, in the signature of her email, this quote by Paul Shepard:
“…I move toward a feeling that we can make enormous changes, but that they’re not going to be made through change in ideology, or policies or programs. They’re going to be made in the way we rear our children….”
I keep reading this quote. I think that it holds my entire relationship with my job in it. I alluded to this recently in terms of the OPI thing, where there are experts everywhere, measuring and branding kids, when all kids need, really, is to be encouraged that they can do things, to be in classrooms that have real smiles in them, lots of them and not fake ones either. We need to expand on the fun piece.
The kids need to just have fun and feel that they are o.k. just the way they are and that they are good enough at French. The kids need to know that they won’t be compared to others all of the time, or to some set of ever changing diagnostic instruments.
We get the kids to know these things when we use methods based on comprehensible input. At the end of the day and after all the spite-filled conversations are over, it is methods based on comprehensible input that allow kids to feel good about themselves in the foreign language classroom. Methods that focus more on content and less on kids fail to get this done.
Kids need to sense when they walk into a classroom that people are happy to see them, and that that happiness is not contingent on how smart they are at the mechanics of French. Then, with that base set, they can actaully really set out to learn the language because they want to, because each day they know that will have positive and fun experiences in their language class.
This is my point, and the reason this blog exists, ultimately. It is to help us all to learn how to really acknowledge kids by focusing on ideas set out by Krashen, which, alone in my professional experience as I suggested above, present possibilities to us that we absolutely must explore if we are to put into practice what Shepard expresses above.
We won’t change education by measuring it more. We will change it by reaching kids. Anything we talk about on this blog site must be towards that end. I’m not anywhere near against old ways of teaching that haven’t worked as I am pro kids.
We all are. Anytime we can put ourselves in a group of people like Laurie Clarcq and Jody Noble professionally, we know that we are on the right team.