I am beginning to suspect, ELT is really the purveyance of snake oil. That is, rather than just being beset by snake oil sellers, perhaps there is no more to ELT as it stands than there is to a bottle of smoke.
It’s coming to something when I am so arrogant as to quote myself. I am currently putting together my thoughts on how we can brainwash students into enjoying their English classes and, in the meantime, wanted to run off this purely opinion-based bit of polemic. One of the good things about blogging is that you can crystallise thoughts into a piece of writing and then get feedback from other people which helps you adjust your perspective. So, if you feel like responding vigorously to what I am about to write, your views will, as ever, be most welcome.
I am beset by existential angst. Normally this is the preserve of the troubled teen and I can only just about remember those days. But it’s coming back to hit me in a big way. prompted in no small part by @geoffjordan’s recent blogpost that served as a heartfelt and well-justified j’accuse of the con-game that is ELT. I have recently taken to advising people to stay away from ELT as a career and am beginning to rue the day that I ever handed over my hard-earned cash to finance my induction into this corrupt little game. When you are half way between your apprenticeship and your retirement, this is not a good situation to find yourself in.
Yesterday I walked into work. I felt the sun on my face and the wind at my back. I was upright and smiling. I noticed how people looked and noticed how if I had a smile on my face, the odd person would smile back. Not the odd person as in the nutter…It was a good day. In my head were my plans for the day: the lesson I was going to teach, the meeting I was going to have, the things I needed to get done. In my head were also the influences from the last week’s readings: the role of knowledge in what we do, the ways that our teaching can be improved, the knowledge that our mind is susceptible to the influences of our bodies, the practices of good writers, the success of Nicola Prentice, the arrivederci of Scott Thornbury, the togetherness of a PLN. If it had been a film, I would have known what was coming.
It was inevitable that I would one day revisit the area of observations. As a manager, they are something that falls within my remit and yet they remain highly problematical for me. It’s that time of year that I am required to barge into my colleagues’ classes and pass judgement upon them. It’s also that time of year -it’s always that time of year- when I have a million and one better things to be doing and I really don’t need to spend my time tying people down to meetings, observations, meetings, report writing and the like.
Yet I do buy into the idea that the manager’s job is largely about ensuring that quality is not only achieved, but maintained and enhanced. A lot of the reactions to observations that are available come from teachers and seem to resent this role of the manager. The demand is that peer observations are just about acceptable but the managers need to keep out of the classrooms. Teachers don’t need to be told what to do or how to do it better. Nobody has the right to judge another. Well…I beg to differ…