Teaching using CI should have a compassionate element to it. That is, we should remember how damaged some of our students are and we should try to teach in a way that includes them. Or we could ignore how damaged they are and leave them alone.
The research on which CI is based reveals a compassionate side, where we care for all our students equally. It speaks to the idea that language acquisition should be pleasurable, even fun. There should be no forcing. Doing this assures membership in the group, because you are not pressuring them. Noam Chomsky talks about how we can’t learn language without being in community.
I’m sorry to say but in my opinion the current CI community has failed to sustain the element of compassion and inclusion that drew a lot of us into the TPRS movement in the late 1990s in the first place. Greed for sales of chapter books, for sales of methods books written by so-called “experts” (there are no experts – it’s just us). The CI community continues to exclude hurting kids and reward the few.
So now, 25 years into the movement, the few continue to dominate the classrooms and the CI instruction doesn’t resemble what Blaine Ray put forth so long ago: the laughter, the hope, the happiness. The whole thing has become a big mess. Compassion in language instruction, so necessary, is hiding, a casualty of the prevalent dark and selfish zeitgeist in America these days.
TPRS/CI has become a method, and is no longer what I think the research indicates it might be one day, where real classroom communities exist that are not based on competition but on cooperation and what I think Blaine had it mind way back when – just a way of being with our students in right adjustment to them instead of testing them all the time to be better.
Just let them be who they are, and let teachers be who they are as well, without all the posturing and testing and all that ugly stuff that takes all the fun out of it.