I’ve never done a book review before. Well, not since my O levels, anyway. Bear with me and let me tell you about this wondrous book that I have read. It’s the only book I have attempted to re-read for a number of years. I think I came across it thanks to Amazon’s “People who have bought books you have read also bought…” feature. Since that time, I have never been far from it and have bought untold copies of the damn thing to give to people who I thought might benefit from it. Dr Steve Peters – you owe me big time (although, to be fair, I think the debt has been repaid a thousand times over).
Sometimes I get taken aback by how much self-serving cant there is in the world of ELT.
Hahaha! How’s that for an opening line! Part of my brain tells me that it’s time to write something that most people could never agree with. The world of blogs is full of confirmation bias and homophily. Homophily, for those of you who are wondering what on earth I am on about, is a self-aggrandising way of saying that birds of a feather flock together (which in turn is an example of the Eason-Rosen effect that says that when put together/if words rhyme/ they’ll be more convincing/most of the time). In other words, people tend to come here and read this blog because it tends to chime with at least part of the way that they think. We tend to unfollow and unfriend those with whom we disagree and we actively search out and stick around those people who think like us or seem to say what we want to say. Where’s the fun, eh? I used to tell myself that I blogged to be disagreed with and have my biases challenged. Then I realised that I am not the kind of blogger who gets much dialogue in the comments pages – unlike that damned Mr Thornbury whose every blogging moment gives rise to interesting and varied debate.
So today, I start with an observation that will hopefully rile some of you and challenge any perception you might have of me that I am a nice person to be around: Sometimes I get taken aback by how much self-serving cant there is in the world of ELT.
A bit of a polemic today, to mark the fact that I have woken up at some sort of ridiculous hour and now need to keep my brain occupied while waiting for the rest of the family to stir. The backstory: I am currently teaching a class that ranges from complete beginner to…well…to what exactly? I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you and I have been doing this job for over twenty years. Some of the students at the higher end of the ability scale are capable of talking, of joking, of communicating, but cannot spell, write, read or understand spoken English with any degree of accuracy. What placement test will ever be able to label them with certitude? At least one of the students in my class says absolutely nothing. When she is asked a question, she folds in on herself and tries to do that sort of physical corporeal origami that will see her disappear from this plane of existence. She has been in the UK for two weeks and has one week left before she goes home and rues the waste of money. How on earth am I supposed to teach this class?
‘Ssup, y’all? Are you flooded? Freezing? Flu-ridden? It’ll soon be Spring and our inefficient brain will begin the laborious process of expunging the worst of Winter out of our brains and over-gilding (not over-gelding) how sweet the hot chocolates were and how great the Christmas parties were. You know, the more I read, the more I become convinced that if we were to perform brain surgery at birth (where brain surgery would consist of replacing the brain with an Intel processor and a decent-sized hard disk), the human race might actually advance a lot further…but enough about my questionable ethics and crazed Frankenstein complex. Let’s move on to talk about the lesson of the day: summarised neatly by Famous Séamus: whatever you say, say nothing.