This was a comment but I wanted to make it into a post:

Craig said:

…the structure of the system is incompatible with the nature of language learning….

Now we need to really reconsider what we’re talking about. I have been repeatedly called to task for criticizing certain things like novels and testing and target structures, but I still stand by my point that those are things that teachers slowly over the years began to think, began to imprint on the method, that those things were needed to make comprehensible input work in schools, and that Blaine allowed for whatever reason, in order to be able to make stories even work in our classrooms. I am not convinced that the way we are doing TPRS in schools is the best way to do it. We didn’t need to make it into a method. It’s not a method. I do know that without Anne Matava’s scripts to use as the wind under my scared wings for the first 15 and 1/2 of the 16 years I did TPRS in middle and high schools, I would not be teaching now.

Those things like novels and testing and targets are all part of a kind of “school based TPRS” system that has really become the property of the same group of people now for decades, who have every reason to want to create the illusion that TPRS is just one big happy family as long as they get to be in charge. Anyway, TPRS has failed for far too many people and Krashen knew that it was only approaching marriage status with his hypotheses. It’s been a long engagement where the groom, TPRS, has become each year less and less interested in the bride, Krashen’s hypotheses. (Krashen seemed to tolerate that failure but Beniko never did tolerate it*.)

I convinced myself I could do it as a method and with skills and all that. I even wrote books about it, but until lately I have to admit that inside I thought I always sucked at it and then we started to meet here and that made it so much better because I could see that the same repeated failures were being expressed by many other honest people who weren’t afraid to say what was really going on in their classrooms. But when some really good leaders throughout the nation tried over and over again to get it to work in schools, but just couldn’t, not as per my vision anyway, I started to see that something was rotten in Denmark. Man it just seemed like TPRS just had too much fake going on in it. Craig this could be a pretty big discussion.

Plus, since each year 75% of the attendees at the national conferences are new, that tells me that many of the people who attended the year before have failed in their attempts. Why? Because (1) there is too much natural opposition from others in school buildings, (2) the way it is taught at conferences now, at least 3 years and certainly not 1 would be necessary to get the necessary training to learn how to do all the method stuff like make the novels, the circling, the assessement, the pagames, the targets work in the mildly effective way they do now. It’s all gotten too complicated.

And that has allowed the same old group of trainers to do the same old tired trainings in some cases for over 20 years now to come in and do the same old demos and training but if they had been working, then where are the results? Why is it all happening at such a slow rate? Is this epic change really going to take 200 years to complete? We really need to look at what Craig says, here repeated, and we need to think about it:

…the structure of the system is incompatible with the nature of language learning….

Then the next question is what are we going to do about that?

*I am weary of people telling me it’s working. Too many kids are still faking the learning, and too many teachers are still working in that level of low-grade fear that they don’t know what they are really doing.



2 thoughts on “Incompatible”

  1. “…the structure of the system is incompatible with the nature of language learning….

    Then the next question is what are we going to do about that?”

    What are people WILLING to do? For me, it seems that the more freedom we have as professionals, the better we can align with Krashen’s hypotheses. The better the classroom conditions are the better we can deliver CI. It seems that there are WAY too many compromises that teachers are doing and those results are actually only a fraction of what CAN happen like more intrinsic joy for both the students and teacher. — Excuse the capitalizations, I am doing that to make it bold.

    Having our hand tied, or at least the belief that we do, is affecting our mindset. When a system becomes too despotic or when admin becomes intolerant, that is when our work suffers. The kids feel stupid. In my environment, kids are trained a little too well in the projects, explicit/direct teaching, testing cycle that is my site. So when they come, they are not comfortable being human beings to each other and to me, their teacher.

    An observation I have made: my best students are ones who have the best rapport with their parents. My poorest are the ones with the worst rapport with a caring adult, who may have a cellphone or a computer for most of their afternoon hours. Here, we need 7 times more praise for these students.

    “..too many teachers are still working in that level of low-grade fear that they don’t know what they are really doing.”

    The fear makes teachers cave in. There is so much information that I have been lost for words when confronted. Yet, the conviction that Tina has demonstrated so well is ON POINT. We can all demonstrate how we align, via writing/subverting our districts’ standards, connecting with our community of parents and even just sticking to our guns and keeping that union rep’s number ready. There must be a plan/blueprint.

  2. Steven said:

    …having our hand tied, or at least the belief that we do, is affecting our mindset….

    and also:

    …there must be a plan/blueprint….

    I believe that there is a definite blueprint. It’s just too big to put in one place and easily transmit to those in our buildings who would benefit from it. We have the Primers and especially those articles by Robert Harrell (and we can read more on his site which is getting more and more active now that people realize what resources – readers and general informational articles about CI – he has there). But Steven it is the sheer size of the change that makes us feel as if our hands our tied. What do cowboys in movies who are tied to a fence with their hands behind them do? They slowly rub the ropes together. That is what we are doing now. It will take years. But think of how it will feel when we break free and those in our buildings understand and value what we bring to them and, instead of confronting us out of ignorance (Tina’s principal comes to mind as a seriously egregious example), they shake our chafed hands and we say to ourselves, “Finally!”

    We are not in charge of the timing. We are grunts. We just go in and do another great or shitty story, with faith and trust and love in our hearts that we are bringing real change to what kids experience in school. At least in one subject. That is enough.

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