Just last week I was showing off to my maths and history colleagues about how I have I have never, ever been asked this question in class, when yesterday, you’ve guessed it…
You may remember the oral fluency lesson I did with one of my classes yesterday (see here if you’ve not been paying attention!).
As I mentioned in my previous post, the majority of the class really enjoyed the lesson. One student however asked me the dreaded question:
“What is the point of doing this?”
When I asked what he thought the reason for the activity was, he replied with
“You’re the teacher, you tell me”
So much for encouraging autonomous learning!
I explained to him that this was an oral fluency activity, which would be assessed according to the criteria that they had agreed upon themselves in the previous lesson.
He wasn’t really convinced and hung out at the edge of his group, making the odd effort whenever I was in the vicinity.
After finishing the activity and wiping the marshmallow off the tables the students completed their assessment sheets, assessing their own performances and then asking their team mates to assess them as well.
I asked the class how they felt the lesson had gone, all (except My Grumpy pants!) agreed it was a fab lesson, but what I found interesting was that only two or three (out of seventeen) actually thought they had learnt anything. A couple, including you know who, thought lessons should have more structure.
This got me thinking about Thornbury’s dogme, Jeremy Harmer asked an interesting question at their conversation at the recent IATEFL conference in Harrogate;
“Why do you think what the students come up with in class would be better than what the teacher brings in?”
I think a certain student would probably say;
“Why do you think anything you bring in will be better than the textbook?”
I’m not sure how he’d survive a dogme class, but it does bring home how many different kinds of learner there are, and perhaps, while we are busy changing the world of teaching (or is that learning?!) we should remember that there are actually some students who would prefer a nice and cosy P-P-P lesson.