Plodding and Pondering

16 01 2012

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/142107065

A successful and satisfying 10km yesterday, after a full day’s work, which had begun with lots of blog work, continued with coordinating and finished up with the run and Lorenzo’s OIl.  The run was the first time in a while that I’ve left the security and proximity of the small lake of Palermo and extended my run out to the big lake.  This is my classic 10k route from home out to and round the big lake and then down to and round the small one.   There was actually a lot more pondering than plodding during the hour and pico that I was out as I was going at a pace of 6:30/km for mostof it and managed to keep it going throughout the 10km.  Unbelievably, I managed to distract myself so much with thoughts of blogging and commenting on all things Dogme so much that I missed my turn off and got a little lost around the small lake – ridiculous behaviour.  

The thoughts that distracted me so much were:

Why is it every time I get close to accepting Dogme someone annoys me with their ‘overeagerness’ for the cause?  Is it something about them, the disciples of dogme, the Dogme-gicians as I’ve decided to call them, or is it something about me?  Am I too unforgiving, too eager to criticise, too cynical? 

What is Dogme?  Noone, even among the Dogme-gicians, seem to be able to agree on whether it’s an approach, a method, a technique, a tool, an attitude, a lesson type or an irrelevance.  And does it matter?  I think it matters if people are passing it off as something it’s not (e.g. an approach), at least to me.  I don’t like people exagerrating the cause.   Am I close in my idea of it as a reflection tool? How do I go about deciding?  Discussing each possibility in a blog post?

Which took me onto the last main thought – how do I reply to everyone’s comments while continuing to blog and while doing the rest of my work etc.  Yesterday morning I ‘wasted’ two hours blogging and commenting on various posts, which I should have spent doing my coordinating work.  But it was fun and stimulating and I got my work done eventually.  Perhaps I should settle for using my comments on other blogs as printing press posts on my own blog, and perhaps a post summarising the main criticisms of my recent posts and my reactions to them, although it will have to wait until next weekend…

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12 responses

17 01 2012
Anthony Gaughan

Thanks for this and all your other posts, Neil – though I have a nasty suspicion that I’m one of those who get your back up. I certainly don’t want to annoy anyone and I don’t think I make greater aims for unplugged ways of doing things than others have made for other approaches and ideas in education. But that’s just what I think – and of course I’m going to see what I think as being reasonable. I dare say that’s true for everyone.

I share, I think, your discomfort with the fuzziness of Dogme and I worry that it leaves an unoriginal but simple and useful idea open to coopting and abuse: I fear I have done this myself. Without more definition, I’ll never know. This is one reason why I want to try to define and criticize the idea for my long overdue ma diss. Your posts have been and will be useful for me in this and so, as I’m here, I’d like to thank you for being a robust but fair interrogator of something I can sometimes be too close to for objective judgment.

17 01 2012
mcneilmahon

You’re welcome, Anthony, and many thanks to you for your role in the debate and your more than generous replies to both my ‘real’ blogposts and my ‘internal dialogues’ here in Running Roads.

The more I think about it the more I think the problem is mine for getting annoyed (which I don’t even think is really the right word, ‘a tad irritated’ might be better), when I should be understanding of enthusiasm and exuberance rather than taking it as a religious fervour.

But it’s definitely been stimulating engaging in the debate and I’m glad to have helped even a little with the MA dissertation project, best of luck with it. And I’ll try and continue to inject some robustness and hopefully some practicality into the debate every now and then.

17 01 2012
LouiseAlix

Love the “dogme-gicians” name. And…..indeed, it gets (too) distracting in busy work periods – perhaps the ‘printing press’ idea of a weekly summary is a good idea! Or better still: you do as Dave Dodgson did recently and opt for vodcasting – multitasking during your run? 😉

17 01 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Louise,

Glad you like the Dome-gicians moniker (and I hope they do too). I might even join the circle one day…

I really don’t think you want me to be vodcasting my runs though, it’s bad enough having to put up with my post-run musings here but to have the added trauma of the sweat and gurning would probably get me banned from wordpress…

17 01 2012
unpluggedreflections

Thanks for this Neil!

I have to say, I completely empathise with your time on work vs time on blog vs time on life issues. I am currently planning a move back to England (less than 2 weeks to go!) and so have had hardly any time to blog/comment/reply. I feel bad about this. It’s a responsibility, having a blog. One that I hadn’t realised would take up so much of my time. I am not by any means complaining, I get SO much from reading and writing blogs. It would be nice, however, to have an extra couple hours in the day to do this!

On that note, have a productive day.

All the best,
Jem

17 01 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Jem,

As I write, the time I’d set aside today to go swimming is dwindling away…

Best of luck with the moving and have a productive day yourself.

I must admit I don’t take having a blog as a responsibility though – if it comes to that I think I’d just stop, it would be a responsibility too far. I do it for completely selfish reasons, because I enjoy writing and thinking and blogging is a way to combine the two in a more orderly fashion than the notebooks I have scrawled through in my pre-Web 2.0 past. If anyone actually comes and reads any of it even better, but I don’t see why you should feel responsible to them – takes away from the fun of it all!

22 01 2012
A is for Approach « An A-Z of ELT

[…] or so, arguing the toss as to whether – among other things – Dogme is an approach. In Neil McMahon’s blog, for example, he asks the question: What is Dogme?  No one, even among the Dogme-gicians, seem to […]

22 01 2012
David Avram

What is Dogme? Noone, even among the Dogme-gicians, seem to be able to agree on whether it’s an approach, a method, a technique, a tool, an attitude, a lesson type or an irrelevance.

Language teachers just being engaged in the dogme debate, is arguably as important as understanding exactly what dogme is – pinning it down. For my money, as soon as a teacher eagerly gets involved in this kind of conversation, they are doing something right.

But in response to the question of whether dogme is an approach, I like Scott Thornbury’s latest blog post: http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/a-is-for-approach/

22 01 2012
mcneilmahon

I completely agree with you on both counts David. Any engagement in debate (and particularly in such a good one as the Dogme one) is a step forward. And Scott’s latest post is an excellent step in this debate to. I’m working on my reply as we comment…

23 01 2012
Alastair Grant

Just a quickie Mr M – to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog – whether about teaching, running, Spurs, art or whatever else, I like your style, enthusiasm and the fact that you don’t get carried away with vitriol and/or bile.

A sane, reflective blogger in a slightly crazy blog-world. I continue to learn from you.

3 07 2012
Dogme in hindsight or Dogme as forward planning | ELT Squared

[…] different from a standard ECRIF planned lesson. I won’t add to much to the debate that Jem, Neil and Scott have written far better on but I will make one last point. One of the aspects of Dogme […]

31 12 2012
Dogme in hindsight or Dogme as forward planning | ELTSquared.co.uk

[…] different from a standard ECRIF planned lesson. I won’t add to much to the debate that Jem, Neil and Scott have written far better on but I will make one last point. One of the aspects of Dogme […]

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