domingo, 27 de octubre de 2013

Reflection Nine

“It is not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.”
Linda Conway
To me this is kind of reassuring.  It is like a garden, but we may never see the ‘seeds’ 
that we planted.  We nurtured them though, so they will grow later.  What do you think?  
What does this quote mean to you?  Explain.  Post to your blog.

I think it means that a part of teaching is planting the seeds of knowledge or the desire to seek knowledge. While we might find that any given student is or is not particularly motivated in our own classrooms, we might find that our influence has worked in small but persistent ways to push that person toward a thirst for knowledge and self-betterment. 
Sounds good to me. I've always found the gardner more compelling than the sergeant.

lunes, 21 de octubre de 2013

Reflection Eight

“It is impossible to teach without the courage to love, without the courage to try a thousand times before giving up.” Paulo Freire

How does this quote make you feel?  Do you agree with it?  Have you always wanted to be a teacher? Explain. Post to your blog.

I think the quote is important. Love as Pablo Freire meant it is the ability to continue to accept and respect others in spite of their failings and their failures. Students sometimes fail at the tasks that teachers set them to, but a teacher will not succeed in teaching if the teacher is unwilling to accept this and teach gently. 

Unfortunately the bureaucracies under which teachers are most often employed are as unemotional as lizards. The machine is not concerned with circumstances, or second chances. Sometimes teachers feel that their behavior should resemble that of the machine. At that point, they stop being teachers and become oppressors.

sábado, 12 de octubre de 2013

Reflection Seven

“The mediocre teacher tells; the good teacher explains; the great teacher demonstrates; the excellent teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

Sure, the ultimate is to inspire students. However, isn’t there a time and place for all these things? Aren’t each of the above important?  What do you think? Explain. Post to your blog.

Since my experience is in teaching English and in learning other languages I will speak from a language learning perspective. Language learning does not happen in the classroom. The best thing a language teacher can hope to do in the classroom is start students down the right path. Occasionally inspiration will happen to a student but I'm not convinced the teacher has anything to do with it.

From the age of 14 to the age of 21 I studied French in a traditional classroom setting. I did learn to use French somewhat but I never really spoke the language except for a brief moment while I stayed with a family in France. In spite of several years of studying French, felt lost navigating my little corner French society and I felt as if I was always missing something and as if no one really understood me. By the time I stopped studying French in college I could barely speak a word. The total failure in my attempt to learn the language was probably the result of being taught and of having grammar explained in the absence of any reason to ever put it to use. But my teacher was a great teacher. She helped me survive that period of my life between childhood and adulthood. French class was the reason I went to high school every day instead of running off and hiding somewhere. Had Madame found some way to inspire me to seek out French in books, and movies, and French speaking members of our own community I might still speak the language. (But really, that's asking a lot of her) Instead learning the language resembled piecing together a very complicated puzzle that never made a picture. 

I gave up French and took up German. I studied German for four years of college. I made my greatest advances in the language in the first year. I made a German friend, I made plans to visit Germany, and I checked out every German language movie available at Pick-a-flick. My teacher was a good teacher. He had a good repertoire of effective methods. He was enthusiastic and he had a good attitude. He gave me the foundation I needed to be successful in the language. However, I inspired myself. Over the next few years I visited Germany several times and found a job in Switzerland for one winter season. By the time I was ready to continue my university studies I was reading novels in German and speaking the language as if I were another person altogether. I entered the linguistics program at CU and I was optimistic that German would be a part of my life forever. By the time I gave up studying German (my senior year) I could barely speak a word of the language. 

So, I met a girl from Spain. Nearly a decade later I came back to my home town with enough Spanish to work as a medical interpreter and lead a weekly tertulia. Sometimes I feel like I am two people one who speaks Spanish and one who speaks English. The platitude is wrong. An excellent teacher does not inspire. A teacher cannot inspire. An excellent teacher points the way for others to find self-inspiration. My greatest language teachers are my ex-wife who lead me to Cameron de La Isla, Antonio Machado, Garcia Lorca, Juan Rulfo, Cervantes, Borjes and Almodovar. And my and ex-father-in-law who lead me to the mountains, springs and gardens of his home.

Teachers will do what they can to help their students avoid pitfalls and false paths and to help them down the right way to learning, and that's all they can really do. 

lunes, 7 de octubre de 2013

Reflection Six

“The most extraordinary thing about a really good teacher is that he or she transcends accepted educational methods.”  Margaret Mead

The funny thing about adult education is that we are finding new ways to teach adults, so the field is really open to teachers finding their way.  Do you agree or disagree with this quote? Do you feel like you have enough support or professional development to teach the way that you would like? Explain. Post to your blog.

Not this week, sorry.