Scope and Sequence 17 – Robert Harrell

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9 thoughts on “Scope and Sequence 17 – Robert Harrell”

  1. Language itself is the antithesis of “formulaic” and “practised.” The hallmark of mastery in any skilled domain– playing violin, rock climbing, speaking Latin, dancing salsa– is that it doesn’t feel (or look to observers) like work.
    Robert might ask his interlocutor how he plans on “practising” for the potentially infinite # of language situations– reading or listening– that are going to come up not in the textbook but in reality.
    BTW nice letter Robert. Good summary of what we know– as opposed to believe– works.

  2. Jeffery Brickler

    This guy is a tool. Does he have any knowledge or authority or research to back up his claim. No. It’s like he is saying that his opinion matters because of his position of power. This does not make him an expert.

  3. And if what the administrator really wanted to see “responding fairly quickly” by students, he could see that in Year 1 activities of many kinds. One-word and phrase answers (or head nods) that show their comprehension of a multiplicity of questions, not just formulaic stuff!

    1. Yes it is. It’s so far from how I think that I didn’t think of memorizing as his approach (I just thought of those “structured input” types of highly planned ‘conversations’).
      I think it’s hard to re-train kids and parents on this, too.

      1. Yes he is a tool Jeff and that is the right word to describe him and I would advise new teachers to learn fast to recognize such people because they are everywhere in WL positions at the building and district level, above the district level, in foreign language methods positions in universities and in the parent bodies of every school.
        Watch it. Even those who claim to get Krashen often don’t. You can waste twenty years before you learn to recognize those people but I suggest that you instead choose now to instantly avoid the useless conversations about pedagogy as soon as you hear the person saying things like this man does above that have no basis in any research as per what Jeff said above.
        The answer Robert received above was mostly to establish who is in power. In the answer you can smell the thin thread of a reminder that he is Robert’s superior in the chain of command. Not to mention that he insults Robert with the brevity of his answer.
        So there is a lesson here for us and that is to trust very few of those who may be in roles of professional superiority to you. Jeff’s use of the word tool is a humble statement, if the definition of humility includes telling the truth about things.
        Robert functioned as a polemicist here. That person was not yet ready to hear him, let alone take up arms in defense of his own indefensible and even indefinable position. That said, we benefit from what Robert did. Now we must use parts or all of this document this year to educate others. That’s how this works.
        I will go change the title and make a category for this thread. I now consider this thread to be Robert’s Polemic. I like that title for Robert’s text better because it will help me remember that it is there and that I can find it in the categories when I need it.
        Of course, heureusement, I won’t even need it in my current school, because CI has won there. And no one at the very highest DPS district level confronts CI teachers anymore. It’s over. The tools have walked off the field in Denver Public Schools because they resembled the dude above but got called on it. Credit Diana Noonan for it.
        A polemic is defined in Wikipedia as:
        …a contentious argument that is intended to establish the truth of a specific understanding and the falsity of the contrary position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about very controversial topics. The art or practice of such argumentation is called polemics….
        Robert has done that, and artfully.

  4. I believe our new director, has also had some experience in language acquisition. It will be interesting to get to know his viewpoint.
    Just an update on this. The “new director” (of 7-12 Instruction) barely lasted the year. It became clear that our district was merely a stepping stone for him, and before he left he neglected a number of important tasks, including scheduling professional development opportunities for World Language, then covering it up by maintaining that there had been no proposals – even though I had met with him in his office to propose two sessions related to CI and Literacy for our professional development week before the start of the school year.
    The administrator with whom I was corresponding – actually a good guy and a friend, even if not entirely up to date on language acquisition – was equally appalled and disgusted. Our subsequent new director is an old friend from the church I attended while in college and a few years thereafter. She is not a language person but is very supportive and knows that what I do in my classroom gets results.
    Last Monday we had a World Languages discussion session at our union office during which we raised a number of concerns about how the district handles teaching foreign language. The administrator with whom I was corresponding in 2013 introduced me to the union president as one of the district’s “superstars in language teaching” and suggested that they come and visit my classroom sometime so she can see what I do.

    1. I like this report Robert. It shows that you are not overly attached to the uncontrollable actions of those around you in the district, but rather are solid in your own work in your own classroom, where you do have complete control. Over time, this devotion to task and refusal to be ruffled by those whose actions you cannot control will bring far reaching results not just in the Los Angeles area but around the world. I congratulate you on your equipoise in this matter. It is a good lesson to those in our group who want change now. We don’t get to say when the change happens; ours is to do what we can to bring it about in faith and hard work that our vision will one day bear fruit in the form of happy kids who want to be in our classes and who believe that once they leave our classrooms still know that they do in fact have the ability to learn the language. This will add a chunk of confidence to their lives. The world will become a better place. But all slowly. That’s ok. We don’t get to say when. We just go teach our next class. We’re not really in charge, absolutely we are not. And neither is the guy who used the position for advancement. He’s not in charge either.

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