I sometimes wonder if language teachers, in wanting to protect the role of the classroom, don’t sometimes underestimate their students. Maybe their students sense this and respond accordingly.Here are some recent remarks from teachers on the role of the classroom versus e-learning. I have added my own questions and comments. Students are all poor. “Not all students can afford iPods or computers.” The report I quoted earlier clearly showed that even adult literacy learners do use the computer. I wonder if, on average, the students are not more familiar with technology than the teacher.
Students are all timid. “Most learners lack confidence. The classroom is a place where they can speak without fear”. But where does the fear come from? Is it the fear to get things wrong. Perhaps our traditional “teach and test” approach to learning has given them that fear, or at least aggravated it. What if the task of teachers, as educators, were to explain that mistakes are normal, given that the brain is not an obedient dog that will perform on command? Can we get learners to think of mistakes as good things, or at least as a necessary part of learning, even if mistakes persist for quite a while? Students have no drive. “Learners lack the initiative or discipline to learn on their own.” “Many of my ESL students are not yet ready to embrace distance learning.” Do teachers sometimes encourage this dependence? What if the task of the teacher were to make the learner independent, nothing else? Students need to be told when to learn.”The classroom is a setting in which there is an intention to learn.” Do we learn only when we intend to learn? Can we only learn when we are consciously trying to learn? The classroom is a noble place, away from the crass world of business. “The claim that classroom settings are artificial settings represents, from my perspective, an entirely meaningless and baffling proposition. We might as well close down all schools. Personally, if I had to choose, I’d rather close down all shopping malls and offices.” No comment.