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from a talk on trends in teacher and learner autonomy


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from a talk on trends in teacher and learner autonomy

  1. 1. Write your own ticket: Recent trends in Teacher and Learner Autonomy Phil Holland IP Exhibition, Thessaloniki, Sept. 1, 2013
  2. 2. “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” -- George Bernard Shaw
  3. 3. Problems:  the model is static; languages are not.  it is one-directional; there is no room for human experience (which John Dewey says should lie at the heart of education); experience comes pre-digested from others.  students across the world, across Europe, across Greece, across Thessalonki, across any class that you have ever taught, are not the same.  nor are teachers and schools the same.
  4. 4. You can lead a horse to water…
  5. 5. For the mind does not require filling like a vessel, but rather, like wood, only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and desire the truth. --Plutarch (1st cent. A.D.)
  6. 6. Think of learning as self-expression, and lead your students to think of it that way. They will make English their own that much faster and more permanently.
  7. 7. How do you orchestrate student autonomy in class?
  8. 8. Make your English classes a place where students do things. Playwriting (role play) Projects
  9. 9.  “Don‟t use force in training children in their studies, but rather play. In that way you can better discern what each is naturally inclined towards.” ◦ --Plato, The Republic
  10. 10. From H. Reinders (2013)
  11. 11. "The whole point of language pedagogy is that it is a way of short-circuiting the slow process of natural discovery and can make arrangements for learning to happen more easily and more efficiently than it does in 'natural surroundings.'" -- Henry Widdowson (1982)
  12. 12.  "Although [students] often mention as positive forces well-designed textbooks and a suitable curriculum, their true enthusiasm is reserved for their teachers and their relationships with them.”  “The teacher's ability to empathize, help students manage their feelings and expectations, and tune interventions appropriately to the emotional and developmental states of the learners, are key factors in many successful learning outcomes. Effective language teachers find ways to provide learners with support and scaffolding when they need it, and to remove the scaffolding when the learners no longer need it.
  13. 13. What about you? “As schools become more autonomous and open learning environments, teachers assume ever greater responsibility for the content, organisation and monitoring of the learning process, as well as for their own personal career-long professional development.” -- Communique of August 2007 from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament
  14. 14. From The Guardian, Feb. 2013 “I love my class and I love helping children to achieve, but it increasingly feels that teaching is being made into a factory production line… I clock in, deliver the lessons planned for me by some anonymous educationalist, read the stories chosen for me by some book marketing company, send the kids home and then mark the books using the marking and assessment code designed for me by some senior leader with no class of their own. Bit by bit, the autonomy of teachers is being chipped away at by people who don't trust us to be able to plan effectively for the children we teach. What the current method seems to ignore is that the children themselves need to experience the exciting feeling of truly tailored, creative lessons - designed by professionals who know them - in order to progress… These days, the time I would have spent dreaming up imaginative, inclusive and stimulating lessons is instead spent trying to reformulate the standard lesson into something that is both achievable and challenging to my class of EAL [English as an Additional Language] learners with very little life experience beyond their housing estate.”
  15. 15. From the resignation letter of Gerald Cont of New York, April, 2013: “I now find that this approach [based on the principles of John Dewey] to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps in some quarters despised. STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] rules the day and „data driven‟ education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education.”
  16. 16. Teacher autonomy defined  A capacity for self-directed teaching: In determining the initiatives they take in their classrooms, teachers must be able to apply to their teaching . . . reflective and self- managing processes.  Freedom from control over their teaching: 
„In practice, . . . language teachers often work in situations where their capacity to grant learners greater freedom in learning is severely constrained‟ (Benson 2000: 115);  Capacity for self-directed professional development: [The autonomous teacher is] „one who is aware of why, when, where and how pedagogical skills can be acquired in awareness of teaching practice itself‟ (Tort- Moloney 1997). -- Richard C. Smith, Teacher education for teacher- learner autonomy (2003)
  17. 17. Just as learning should be seen as creative self-expression for the learner, so the act of teaching must afford creative space to the teacher. Teachers, no less than students, need to make what goes on in class their own.
  18. 18. “Very few men are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching. For he that was only taught by himself, had a fool to his master.” -- Ben Jonson
  19. 19.    eries/learning-english  The Visual Thesaurus teacher columns  TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece
  20. 20.  The centrality of the self  Teachers themselves need to be model life-long English-language learners.
  21. 21. For further reading:  Bibliography:  Benson, Phil (2011) Teaching and Researching Autonomy, 2nd ed., Pearson.  Benson, P. (2007). Autonomy in language teaching and learning. State of the Art Article. Language Teaching, 40(1).  Borg, S., Al-Busaidi, S. (2012). Teachers' beliefs and practices regarding learner autonomy. ELT Journal, 66(3), 283-292.  Boyer, N., & Maher, P. (2005). From Spoon-Fed to Student-Led: Fostering an Atmosphere for Web-Based Transformative Learning. International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, 2(2), 66-80.  Levels of Autonomy and Responsibilities of Teachers in Europe, European Commission, Education and Culture DG, 2008: pdf  Jackson, Frederick H. and Marsha A. Kaplan, Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching,  Reinders, H., & Balcikanli, C. (2011). Learning to foster autonomy: The role of teacher education materials Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2 (1), 15-25:  Smith, Richard C., Teacher education for teacher-learner autonomy: