Questions for Textbook Companies – 8

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2 thoughts on “Questions for Textbook Companies – 8”

  1. I would also ask how the textbook motivates students to learn. Language learning/acquisition is not reducible to a series of algorithmic processes, which is what the grammar-driven approach seeks to do. Acquisition is the result of heuristic processes, and the motivation needs to be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. With precisely the sort of learning we hope to engender in our classrooms, external motivators (“bribes” to learn – such as grades, PAT, and prizes) have been shown to be de-motivators. Their application results in less interest because offering a reward to do something tells the student that the task per se is not worth doing. External motivators work when the task is boring, repetitive, and algorithmic (i.e. following pre-determined steps to reach a pre-determined end). They are counterproductive when the task involves creativity, artistic application, thinking “outside the box”, and exploration. In other words, the textbook approach breeds disinterest by using an algorithmic approach (Drop the -ar infinitive ending and add the proper conjugated verb ending: -o for yo; -as for tú; -a for él, ella ousted; etc.) and must be shored up by constant external motivation. One of the problems with this is that external motivation is “addictive” in the sense that rewards have to increase over time to bolster involvement. In other words, you are dealing with diminishing returns on the investment, and students become increasingly disengaged in the learning process – dropping out after the required years of study, putting heads down, “spacing out”, doing worksheets mindlessly while chatting in English with friends. I believe that most of the ills of the language classroom (and just about all classrooms for that matter) are traceable to the nearly universal application of external motivators in the current educational system. But that’s just my opinion.

    My comments are probably more applicable to the questions about rigor, but I thought of them here, so you’re stuck with that.

    Ben, I’m hoping to put together some thoughts on motivation; I just sent out a proposal to my colleagues about incorporating 20% time (aka Genius Hour) into our extension schedule. I’ll send you an e-mail about that when I’m a bit farther along with it.

    1. I used PAT time this year and I thought that it started great but has become difficult. I am not planning to use it again, at least for the entire year. It was probably due to me and not to the method but I do agree that it is external motivation. It worked great all of first semester and was nice to be able to give minutes for the great things that they did but then I think it just ran it’s course. I find success is better motivation than PAT time.

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