Saturday, January 22, 2011

Strong Arm Lesson Plans

Do you agree with how the teacher handled the situation?

This scenario seems to have arrived at a mutually agreed result however it appears to have been a battle of the wills in some respects. For example six hours of one on one lessons daily in my opinion appears rather grueling. Why not incorporate a little “free talking” with the subject of the day’s lessons being the topic as part of the daily lesson plan? It would provide feedback to the teacher as well as is recommended that needs analysis be regularly conducted. It would have diffused the learner’s initial expectations. In addition the negotiated verbal agreement could have simply been what had already been planned for. Free discussion of one’s lessons is a form of review and reinforcement of them.

Would you have dealt with it differently? If so, how?

As mentioned above I think I would have realized that adults do need some form of the learning cycle approach to their cognitive skills acquisition of learning tasks: experience, reflection, generalization and application. In one to one training there should be some freer forms of generalization and application otherwise it would become quite stifling in my opinion much like drilling rather than enjoying the learning topics. As Richardson has suggested bringing office realia or real communication challenges that the learner experiences into the learning program would composite/reflect “free talking” opportunities.

Would you agree that this is an example of teacher and learner negotiating course content?

It is perhaps an example of negotiated course content. However a well prepared teacher would know how to incorporate “free talking” into their lesson plans I think.

On an aside I taught two evening sessions of mixed adult conversation classes in my first cram school for two years virtually two hours a week with almost the same cadre of half a dozen students coming through. While I would have used a book more frequently we might have gotten through half of a book in two years. My boss was not concerned about return as quote, “we’re making enough money on the kids classes don’t worry about them.”

It really was a free talking class and if it wasn’t they wouldn’t have come back. It was almost my personal fan club or something like, "pull the white monkey's tail or feed the white monkey bananas or get the white monkey drunk, etc." Learners often negotiate their lessons in Korea with their pocketbooks and if teachers expect too much they just walk out the door to the next cram school as the schools and teachers as has been quoted here before “dimes a dozen” at last estimate 35,000 cram schools teaching conversational English in Korea.

I don’t know how many times I had drunken agashis ("young ladies") or ajohshis (“uncles”) elbowing or otherwise dominating class topics despite incomprehensible and guttural English. At times grinding crackers into carpets would have been more useful practice but that’s what they wanted. However everybody paid and everybody kept coming back. In smaller cities I guess entertainment comes in fewer forms. I guess what I'm saying is the teacher in the scenario could have provided pockets of learning disguised as free talking time and not wasted those nine hours. By the way, fifteen years later my fan club down south stills begs me for visits.

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