Box-ticking or mind-mapping?

Originally posted on unwrapping the education box :

This is a joint post between Willy Cardoso and Divya Madhavan on questions about ELT professionalism.


We worry about the current box-ticking culture in ELT teacher training and development. We think this impacts how professional knowledge is valued and how it should be valued. And we’re really not sure this is a good thing. In the words of Gert Biesta “are we valuing what we measure? or measuring what we value?”

What is box-ticking culture? It…

-focuses on visible behaviour as the main form of evidence of professional knowledge

-assumes that a change in behaviour means change in cognition

-focuses on teachers’ techniques, classroom management and control, repertoire of activities, rationales for activities, etc; all of which should match externally constructed knowledge and their translation into assessment criteria (i.e. boxes to tick)

So, boxes are ticked based on demonstrable classroom behaviours. The artistry of teaching inevitably falls into the ‘additional comments’…

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Angel or devil? The strange case of Sugata Mitra

Originally posted on Jeremy Harmer:

Last Saturday Sugata Mitra gave a plenary at an international teachers’ conference. When it was over a proportion of the audience gave him a standing ovation, but an equal number refused to get to their feet and a proportion of the ‘reaming seated’ crowd expressed outrage and fury at what they had heard and seen. He was an angel. He was a devil. You can watch the plenary in question here , and you can read Graham Stanley’s careful response here .

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I have blogged about Sugata Mitra before in reference to his TED talk – and his plenary at the IATEFL 2014 conference over a year later was not significantly different from his TED appearance. And back then, like most speakers at TED conferences, Mitra was encouraged speak passionately and idealistically about something he believes in – and something which promotes technology’s ability to answer all problems – and…

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IATEFL Harrogate 2014: Mitra having a jelly good time

Originally posted on EFL Notes:

The IATEFL Harrogate 2014 plenaries were bookended by two very chalk and cheese speakers. The opening plenary by David Graddol presented a well-argued thesis on English and economic development, with touches of humility e.g. when referring to his 1997 prediction that corporate decision making would move from economic rationalism to more social justice -

I think I got that wrong. Economic rationalism is alive and well.

David Graddol IATEFL Harrogate 2014 plenary

He goes on to remind us of some elementary critical thinking. Referring to an Education First graph showing a relationship between GDP per capita and English proficiency he asks what is cause and what is effect? We could add is there another variable mediating the other two?

Some very apt questions to bear in mind when assessing Sugata Mitra’s two graphs on distance from Delhi/English, Maths & Science primary school performance in India and number of council houses/GCSE…

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Never Mind the Bo**ocks – here’s The TEFL Skeptic!

Originally posted on The Steve Brown Blog:

It’s often struck me that the IATEFL conference is a bit like a big music festival. You’ve got the global stars on the main stage, slightly more alternative acts in the bigger rooms, and then the unsigned bands that nobody has heard of (like me) playing in some faraway tent, mostly to people who are there by accident.

Some of the venues even have themes – the room with all the Learning Technologies SIG events is a bit like the dance stage, where all the techno-heads go to get turned on by people like Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly. The Consultants-E are like Daft Punk – they started out as some kind of dance-oriented outfit, and over the years they have somehow managed to stay ahead of a very fast-moving game. As their genre has become more accepted as part of the establishment, they are now firmly at the…

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Dogme through students’ eyes – Part three – First impressions

Originally posted on Teaching Unplugged Week:

First impressions

At the end of the first lesson, students provided their first impressions of Dogme. In analyzing the feedback, several ideas emerged, some more so than others. The percentages in which these ideas occurred are presented in the graph below.

Photo 1 First impressions

Note that the percentages shown reflect how often a specific idea recurred in the total number of ideas presented, not the percentage of students who provided the idea. For example, “Interesting” accounted for 22.9 percent (16 out of 70) of the total ideas provided by students, but was actually mentioned by 64 percent (16 out of 25) of students.

Although 25 learners responded, they sometimes included several ideas in their response. For example, one learner stated “I think it’s interesting to try. It makes the class more interactive and that allows us to talk about more subjects that concern and interest us” (Rebuffet-Broadus, 2012). In this one comment, three…

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Read all the pamphlets and watch the tapes!!!

This post is all about getting you to come on over to the new blog I have created.   Teaching unplugged week -

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The aim of the project is to get teachers thinking about how they teach and what happens in their classroom. I would like to encourage teacher exploration, research and reflection by experimenting with unplugged teaching. I hope this will lead to teachers researching other methods and approaches, allowing them to leave the course book at the class room door and push themselves and their students into new areas to improve themselves and make them better teachers and learners.

The premise is quite simple. Teachers commit to teaching unplugged with a class for at least two lessons and then submit their thoughts and reflections, before, during and after the experience.

The site has articles from Scott Thornbury, Christina Rebuffet-Broadus and Mike Harrison. During the coming weeks more will be added by other teachers as the project progresses.

If you have a spare 5  minutes, come on over and check it out. What have you got to lose?

Spring Blog Festival

Just a quick post to make you aware of the Spring blog festival that is taking place right now and throughout this weekend. Follow the link here for information:

I will be presenting at 6pm GMT on Saturday 15th. Talking about experimental practice in ELT and launching my new blog and project.

Luke Meddings, Jeremy Harmer, Shelly Terrell, Vicki Hollett and Barbara Hoskins Sacomoto will be talking on a variety of subjects. Well worth checking out!