Comment on ‘There’s no such things as a dragon’ by @alastairjgrant

15 01 2012

Al, you cite me as arguing there’s no such thing as Dogme – I never said any such thing. In my post ‘Who Needs Dogme?’ I was simply asking myself whether Dogme did anything for me and if it didn’t, who was it for? Difficult to do if you think it doesn’t exist.

Then you say:
Well, CELTA, Trinity and whatever other teacher training course we embark upon, teaches us to use a coursebook from the outset. Now that’s what I call dogmatic.

My reply to this is a blogpost of my own called ‘Turning CELTA candidates into Dogme-gicians’ where I remind you CELTA teaches us HOW to use a course book and much much more besides.

You then quote Luke Meddings metaphor:
Despite the name, there’s no dogma to Dogme. Luke’s recent metaphor about the “three tent poles of Dogme” (IH DoS 2012) is a perfect description of why Dogme is so versatile: you can use it anywhere, it adapts to fit the terrain and works in all climates.

As a very amateur camper, I’m not convinced you can use a three-pole tent anywhere. There are different tents that work better in different contexts, just like approaches to English teaching and stories about dragons (Puff the Magic being my fave…).

Never making it clear to your readers which ‘key objection’ I was making in my post, you therefore link my name throughout your posts to doubts about the effectiveness of these three tent poles of Dogme. I don’t doubt any of them , I just doubt Dogme’s need to claim exclusivity on them and I don’t doubt that all three of these fundamentals of good teaching were around long before Scott came down from the mountain.

Whether Dogme needs to exist or not was the question I was asking myself and I’m coming around to the idea that it might, but the manner in which a lot of Dogme-gicians such as yourself here today resort to exaggeration, hyperbole and inaccuracy in order to promote the cause detracts from any fondness I might otherwise have felt for it. But that’s just me.

Turning CELTA candidates into Dogme-gicians

15 01 2012

Commenting on my post  ‘Who Needs Dogme‘, @alastairjamesgrant, IH’s very own Dogme-gician, asks me:

Be it Trinity, CELTA or whatever, we have all learnt our initial teacher training tools through the use of course books. Are they therefore essential? 

My reply got too long and took too long to write (when I should have been doing other things today) to leave as a comment, so it’s become a blog post.  Here it be: 

No we haven’t, Al. We’ve learnt our initial teaching techniques (which is what I presume you meant to say?) by teaching and getting feedback on our classes from our peers and our tutors. Course books are most often involved in this process, but the continued insistence of a lot of Dogme-gicians such as yourself to lump all the blame for ‘bad teaching’ on course books is the lazy argument that makes my Dogme-friendliness dwindle.

CELTA courses are about so much more than course books and there’s plenty of room for even a pure (i.e. all ten commandments) Dogme lesson within the CELTA framework if candidates want to teach that way. On our course at IH Buenos Aires Teacher Training we show candidates different lesson frameworks: a receptive skills lesson, a test-teach-test lesson, a text-based guided discovery lesson and sometimes a situational presentation, as well as showing videos of a TBL lesson and a functions dialogue build.  Two of these six involve course book texts, but there’s no need for them to and I’ll change them for authentic texts my past students have brought to class if you like.

The candidates are given a coursebook to work with and supporting notes from us about how to adapt the course book to these lesson frameworks and make them more communicative and student-centred at the same time.  We see this support as essential for candidates to be able to focus on certain aspects of their teaching at a time (I hope even the most Dogmatic Dogme-gician would agree doing a Dogme-esque lesson in week one of a CELTA without being able to give clear instructions, monitor or give useful feedback is a recipe for disaster).  By week three they are encouraged to become more independent and react to the course book materials with their students in mind, adapting or supplementing or rejecting them as they see fit (with tutor guidance where required) and in week four the candidates are choosing what to teach and how to teach it all by themselves.  If we added a loop input Dogme style session in to complement the other lesson-types and changed those two course book texts for more authentic ones then we’d have a very Dogme friendly CELTA course – and I’m working on it.

Why do CELTA courses get so much blame?  There is no criteria on a CELTA course that says you need to show good techniques with course books.  If you look at the CELTA syllabus, course books aren’t mentioned once and only three points even come close:

4.4 The selection, adaptation and evaluation of materials and resources in planning (including computer and other technology based resources)
4.5 Knowledge of commercially produced resources and non-published materials and classroom resources for teaching English to adult learners
5.4 The use of teaching materials and resources

That’s three points out of a total of 45 (if we include the skills breakdown points).  And the point that comes closest to mentioning course books (4.5) also discusses ‘classroom resources’, which may well mean a CD player or IWB if you’re (un)lucky enough, but aren’t classroom resources also what Dogme-gicians are meant to be using instead of course books?

CELTA is all about giving candidates the tools and techniques to teach in the classroom.  All Dogme-gicians use these tools, so please stop criticising the CELTA.  Criticise CELTA courses or CELTA trainers who put the course book before the student in their teaching practice if you want, but it’s simply not CELTA’s fault.  It’s not even course books fault that some teachers don’t put their learners at the centre of their classes, but I’ll save that for another day as I have work to do.

Comment on ‘The Dogme revolution needs to be televised’ by @bealer81

15 01 2012

On Five Against One, @bealer81 commented:

 ‘It seems that Dogme certainly allows for a greater degree of connection. Both, the teacher and more importantly the learner. By making the lessons about the learner’s lives the emotional component is enhanced and creates a more personalised feeling about the class.

This is the kind of claim that I was also referring to in ‘Who Needs Dogme?’, Adam. Making the lessons about the learner’s lives is not exclusive to Dogme, it’s the basis of good teaching and is much more prominent on the CELTA courses I train on that any course book is. Dogme allows for a greater connection than what? Bad teaching? I am trying to come around to the idea that Dogme as an attitude / reflective tool has an important role to play in increasing the amount of ‘just good teaching’ that goes on around the world, but then the hyperbole slaps me in the face again and asks me what I’m thinking…

Comment on Spurs 1 Wolves 1 on Spurscommunity

15 01 2012

Just watched the match as live in the early hours of Sunday morning here in Buenos Aires and then read this match day thread and I can’t believe how quick everyone is to criticise certain players – Ade and Bale in particular – when the referee and linesman, yet again, were directly and unfairly involved in preventing us from winning. At Stoke we would definitely have won, yes won, not drawn, if Hoy had had a good game, and today the officials denied Ade another perfectly good goal and their goal came from a corner that clearly wasn’t a corner. 

It’s all very well to bang on about a winning mentality and how we have to nurture one, and I am as big a fan of doing so as anyone on this forum, but when the officials always give the benefit of the doubt to the other team, even when you’re playing at home, it requires a mentality harder than even that required by 18? times champions United (since they get so many decisions in their favour, home and away (especially against us of course)) that even such a believer in procuring a winners mentality as I starts to doubt the fairness of the playing field. 

Is it just me, or do we seem to have the officials against us even when we play at home? Is it just me, or wouldn’t you hope that we might even have the officials in our favour (i.e. giving us the benefit of the doubt when they’re not 100% sure about something) since we play the best football and we play the fairest football in the league. 

Name me the last game in which we committed more fouls than our opponent? 
Name me the last game in which we got more 50/50 decisions given in our favour? 

I would be surprised if you could name a game in the last ten years or so, maybe even since the premier league was born. When we play the top four the commentators even go on about how they should beat us and when we play a team like Wolves they go on about what fantastic fighters they are to be robbing us. 

We get credit for three days because people finally realise three months later than they should that we’re one of the three best teams in England and they only do it to put a stop to it as soon as they can. 

As a club we need to adopt a siege mentality and get much harder with officials etc. Harry has to get himself banned or fined whatever but point out the injustices and the players need to complain more. If you make a noise early in the game about a corner that never was and keep making that noise maybe the official thinks twice about putting up the flag when Ade clips in Bale’s shot…and perhaps even sees the player playing him onside.

Whatever happens and whatever crap we continue to get fed by the premier league I am amazingly proud of our chairman, manager and players for the football they have produced so far this season and while I would love them to get what they deserve (we should be three points clear of City at the moment if it wasn’t for Hoy and today) I will love them anyway and those of you who choose to criticise Ade or Bale or anyone else, aim your negativity at the officials and back your players for every minute of the rest of the season because we can still win this whole thing, but the team needs all of us 100% behind them the rest of the way.