This is the first in a series of blog posts about how pigs can’t fly:
I have come to the conclusion that teachers who use comprehensible input are in a much more dangerous position than regular teachers. They are in a dangerous position because the work of making a class human, that is to say one in which human values of back and forth communication and give and take, which are required if language is to happen, are directed at kids who may not have been trained in the art of real human communication.
Such kids, when told by us in our classrooms that they have to show up as human beings, often refuse and push back, sometimes enlisting the help of either other students or parents. Our own reaction to these oppositional kids will directly determine how well we are able to make comprehension based methods work in our classrooms.
It is true that possibly the most important work that we are doing together is the videos. However, the work that Robert initiated here last May, the study of the Three Modes, part of the national position statement in the ACTFL documents, is not far behind in importance.
We must make all the layers of people we work with understand that we can’t align our teaching of languages according to national indicators and the new state standards without the good will of our students. I direct this comment directly to Allison, who in a blog comment last week wondered how much we should mitigate our use of CI by blending it with the old ways of teaching languages.
The old model of students tuning out in our classes won’t work in classes that use the new way of learning languages, namely comprehensible input. Why? For the same reason that pigs can’t fly. Pigs can’t fly because of gravity, and yet many of us spend all year trying to teach students who can’t learn.
Now, I have clearly stated my belief on this blog that ALL students can learn when comprehensible input is used in the classroom. But what I mean by that is that they can learn intellectually. What I wish to address right now, at this crucial point of the year when most of the gift wrapping has been removed from each of our students and, although some gifts are wonderful students who want to learn, some are looking pretty scary to us – these are the kids I want to talk about here in this series of blog posts about kid pigs who can’t get off the ground with us in our classrooms – before some of us go crazy in the next month or two because we don’t know how to respond to these scary kids, who are fortunately very rare.