Is the fear that many teachers have, when they consider the possibility of changing to the new CI paradigm, accurate? Is it really fear of change that makes them drag their feet into the new CI paradigm? What is keeping new teachers from embracing CI with more immediacy and vigor? Why has the movement stalled?
Here are some possible reasons:
1. If all a teacher knows is one way of teaching, then how can they change? So the fear is understandable. Many current language teachers have only experienced the traditional worksheet/ textbook approach as a student and now as a teacher. So it’s like asking a Chemistry teacher to suddenly start teaching Physics.
2. The new paradigm has been hijacked by a bunch of “experts” who for 20 years now have slowly turned the movement into a big money grab. The old TPRS good will and sharing of the early 2000s is gone, replaced by a new breed of internet entrepreneurs, one of whom is a vicious predator. This naturally affects their ability to present CI to new teachers in ways that are devoid of self-interest, which leads to inaccuracies in their understanding and presentation of CI, because greed alters what is best for students.*
3. Here’s the main point I would like to make in this post: It’s not really fear and greed that are keeping teachers from diving deep into the CI ocean to find its pearl – it’s exclusion of the many by the few.**
To make the point again. As I see it, the real reason that teachers choose against CI, or worse, the reason that they demand a watered-down version of it before they will put it into their classrooms, is that their teaching excludes most of the students in the classroom, and they allow it.
I’m writing a book called Racism in the Language Classroom and in upcoming podcasts will pull discussion from it (links will appear here soon since I am only getting the podcasts started now).
A story about a conversation between two women (which I paraphrase here since I can’t find the actual source) illustrates this:
Two women – one was white and one was black – were talking. The white woman said that all women face the same oppression and therefore all women share the same solidarity, whatever their color.
The black woman said, “I’m not so sure. Let me ask you a question. When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, what do you see?” The white woman said, “A woman.” The black woman said, “I see a black woman. Race is invisible to you. And that is the problem.”
If you are not actively seeing how most of your students are being affected by the few five or six kids** who actually run your classes, and if you are not doing anything about it, then you are like the white woman above. Even with CI, you won’t be able to reach your students of color, or the other excluded kids who are different in body image, sexual orientation, etc. who may feel different and learn differently than those five or six kids with whom you have bonded at the expense of your entire language program.
So I am saying that the real problem in the CI world – the reason that explains its failure to launch in language classrooms – is not fear of the new methodology or greed – it’s the favoring of the few and your own failure to teach in a way that reaches all the students in your classroom. That explains the big foot stomping down on the CI movement right now.
*An example is the proliferation of those ineffective little “novels” that divide CI classes down racial and economic lines.
**See the recent post on “Five or Six Kids Can Ruin a Class”: https://www.patreon.com/posts/60068272