Propuesta para mi tarea cooperativa

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imagen de: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/388928117789439877/

El resultado de aprendizaje que espero de esta tarea es: El estudiante deberá ofrecer una evaluación  del nivel de español con su compañero de equipo ha regresado del año Erasmus o en el extranjero y dónde se encuentra ahora, de una manera clara y constructiva y deberá dar un consejo sobre cómo continuar su aprendizaje de ELE de camino al nivel C2. 

Van a realizar cuatro actividades: 1. una tarea de expresión e interacción por escrito (50 minutos), 2. una tarea de comprensión aural (50 minutos) y 3. una tarea de comprensión lectora (50 minutos). Al final de estas actividades los tres estudiantes se tienen que reunir y enseñarse el trabajo mutuamente para producir 4. un correo electrónico dirigido a mi y a su compañero/a de equipo haciendo la evaluación en español y dando los consejos que consideren oportunos en español también (+120 minutos). No hay tarea de interacción oral porque en este curso la interacción oral va por separado por considerarla muy importante y yo no imparto esta clase.

Considero que todos los alumnos pueden llevar a cabo todas las tareas, puesto que las tareas de nivel van a tener un nivel más bajo del que espero que tengan (B1). La actividad 4 requiere mayor preparación y nivel pero pueden hacerla en casa y utilizar ayudas de sus compañeros de equipo o amigos nativos que tengan. Se les va a puntuar en cómo se han implicado en dar consejo y ayudar y el español producido en el correo electrónico.

Trabajaremos con un patrón de cooperación grupal e individual dentro del grupo.

La tarea promueve que los alumnos se necesiten para hacer el trabajo porque no van a recibir consejos o evaluación mía sin evaluación de un compañero/a previa; porque necesitan juntarse y mostrarse el trabajo que han realizado en clase en las tareas 1,2,3 antes de producir el correo electrónico; porque nunca han hecho una tarea similar y van a necesitar clarificar lo que hay que hacer exactamente juntos.

He intentado que esta tarea sea rigurosa en cuanto a la evaluación que vamos a darle. Voy a intentar describirla claramente por escrito y de manera oral con una infografia para que todos la entiendan. Los grupos están formados por personas de niveles distintos con lo que tendrán que comentar entre ellos lo que les parece aceptable o no a este nivel de lengua antes de enviar el correo. He intentado que la estructura de ayuda (A,B,C en la que el alumno A evalua al B, el B al C y el C al A) promueve este nivel de interdependencia positiva. He intentado que la tarea lleve una participación equitativa también porque requiere el mismo tiempo de intervención y participación para todos. He intentado promover la responsabilidad individual dentro del grupo porque si uno de los miembros del grupo no coopera, el trabajo no puede tener lugar.

 

roles y normas 

hoy me he puesto a escribir y no había forma de parar.  Me recuerda a las épocas de secundaria y licenciatura cuando me aburría en clase y me perdía en mi propia caligrafía, a diferencia de que ahora solo tecleo.  

Esta noche utilizo la tablet que con la escritura deslizante o como quiera que hayan denominado al ‘swipe typing’ en castellano no es ni mucho menos igual de gratificante que el chisporroteo de las teclas. Pero bueno me estoy yendo por los cerros de Úbeda y mi intención solo era personalizar las ideas que propongo.  

He diseñado los roles en mis paseos de donde aparco a donde trabajo y de la guardería al trabajo en estos últimos días.  Y me he resistido a la terminología empresarial porque trabajo para la universidad nacional de irlanda que cada vez es menos pública y más orientada a formar consumidos trabajadores o consumidores. Ya se les llama clientes a los alumnos y como a mi todo ese planteamiento me chirría por dentro.  He elegido la analogía del cuerpo humano como mejor colaborador o ideal debiera decir.  También porque quiero que pensemos en el equipo como un todo,  una identidad.  Así que esta es mi propuesta:

En cuanto a las normas me he puesto exigente y de aquí al comienzo de curso en enero es probable que recorte y simplifique aun mas.  Pero me gustaría que me digáis qué pensáis de mis dos modelos. He pensado mucho en el perfil de estudiante irlandés de ultimo año de grado y sus necesidades que tenemos (y tememos como ha querido corregirme mi sabionda tablet)  aquí. 
 

Agrupamientos y heterogeneidad

Empezaré por compartir la realidad física en la que me suele tocaste dar clase.

Eso es una clase del edificio donde solemos dar lengua.  No sé si os hará gracia que os diga que solía haber un cartel del departamento de mantenimiento que decía que estaba prohibido mover el mobiliario.  En fin… Dictaduras estructurales aparte,  voy a trabajar con un grupo concreto que tiene dos clases y de momento 59 alumnos y alumnas de cuarto y último año de español y otra especialidad o dos.  Para más información,  me escribes y te cuento como funcionan las carreras de letras en Irlanda.  Como no tengo números fijos no he cerrado los grupos,  pero si sé que quiero que sean heterogéneos (género, grados y nivel de español).  Debido a eso y que su año anterior estuvieron de erasmus o en practicas en una escuela la mayoría, necesito ver sus notas a finales de este semestre o hacer un test de nivel antes de agrupar. Me estoy planteando si lo hago antes de que empiece el curso o no.  El curso dura 12 semanas y trata de perfeccionar su español a nivel B2 o C1 del marco europeo común de las lenguas. 

Así que lo primero es encontrar clase. Hay una en otro edificio que es similar a esta que he encontrado por Internet 

Y eso me gustaría organizar porque dado el súper absentismo que tenemos me permite reorganizar grupos en clase, es flexible. Yo me muevo mucho pero ahí ellos también pueden. También me aseguro visibilidad y audibilidad,  ya que tengo una alumna ciega en este curso.  Y a la vez,  la proximidad entre ellos les permite comunicarse entre grupos y dentro de su grupo y mantiene la atención. 

He contestado afirmativamente a todas las preguntas del final de la tarea inicial de este curso. Los alumnos ya se conocen y han trabajado en grupos antes pero nunca de esta forma así que quiero pensar qué actividades voy a diseñar con mucho cuidado.  El objetivo es que aprendan a implicarse mas en el aprendizaje colectivo y que como consecuencia aumente la interacción en español entre ellos.  

Ah,  se me olvidaba.  Serán grupos de tres y los que sobren serán de cuatro. Habrá alumnos erasmus de otros países que voy a distribuir heterogéneamente por el aula. 

Y eso es todo,  creo.  Wish us luck.  Beidh an t-adh orainn! 

Aprendizaje cooperativo en práctica

Bueno,  pues aquí empiezan mis deberes de este curso. Voy a hablar en español porque es el idioma del curso but if anyone needs a translation and google doesn’t seem reliable enough,  they can write to me or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to translate.  

No me he presentado mucho todavía y me cuesta porque quiero contaros muchas cosas de mi para que entendáis mis estrategias como profesora.  Pues nací en Valladolid hace 41 años,  y no me sentía muy a gusto en esa tierra,  y me marché hace ya 18 años a enseñar español en Brasil,  Canadá e Irlanda, donde vivo y enseño desde hace 13 años en la universidad de Galway. La enseñanza fue mi preocupación desde que jugaba con muñecas hasta mi tesis doctoral que fue un proyecto cooperativo con mis alumnos canadienses y que defendí hace ya tres años.  Hoy día la enseñanza sigue siendo una de mis pasiones,  la otra más importante y exigente tiene 20 meses y está durmiendo la siesta ahora.  Buf.  En particular,  ando intentando jugar con el espacio y el tiempo en la enseñanza de lenguas así que los temas de esta semana son súper relevantes para mi.  

Me gustaría que si hay alguien más en el curso dando español como lengua extranjera, nos pudiéramos agrupar  para conversar mas específicamente sobre las necesidades comunes y dispares que tenemos.  

My view on trial and error

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This blog post derives from a conversation on academia.edu about translation descriptive studies.  However,  it has nothing to do with that area of my research. Anthony Pym published a most interesting article online for a brief period and invited comments on it.  Unsurprisingly, because these academic things such as conference conversations after a talk or round tables tend to digress in this way, one of the threads of the conversation led to criticism around the post method era postulated by Kumaravadivelu and others (for a good decision of this issue, read ‘Method and Post method: Are They Really So Incompatible?’ (2003) by David Bell in TESOL quarterly).

In particular, one of the issues that bothered me was the fact that one of the contributors launched an attack against innovation or subjective teaching approaches that combine different methods on the grounds of student welfare.  She compared students of this type of innovative teacher with victim guinea pigs, subjected to their teachers trials but
Especially errors. 

This online conversation took place a few weeks ago but I’ve been trying to reconcile and understand why it is so alarming for me that this view is supported by many teachers, since there were several comments agreeing with her point of view. Here are my thoughts and as usual I’d love to hear your views on all this.

I must start by pointing out that I agree that a blitzkrieg application of uniformed methods or teaching approaches or whims is ill advised. There are many of us now teaching languages and we can learn from our research, publications, shared experiences, conversations, etcetera before we try something out… Unless we really have no time for consultation and we agree with our students  that we want to try this thing. Given the speed of our teaching years lately, this is the case more often than not.  So by saying this,  I’m adding that I thoroughly support ethical experimentation in the language classroom – and slow and learning,  but I’ll leave this issue for another blog Post.

What do I mean by ethical experimentation? I am referring to innovation and implementation of unapproved or newly developed methods and approaches in consultation with class participants (students, colleagues and curriculum planners), bearing in mind that this consultation could happen afterwards, depending on the purpose and nature of the innovation. For example,  if I want to know what students think of Spaniards, and then show a few Spaniards these views anonymously to record their responses and give them back to students of Spanish; I wouldn’t tell my students that I’m going to show their opinions to Spaniards at first because that would influence their writing.  I must say that I wouldn’t do this exercise with a group of students I’ve just met. I would have had to earn their trust first. This situation and task that I’m describing here serves to show that the outright dismissal of trial and error approaches just because we are dealing with human subjects sets learning in a very corseted sterile environment where only tried and true methods are possible. It also assumes that the learner, not unlike the poor lab rat has no resilience or agency in the classroom, that he or she is a mere consumer of teacher choices.

My own experience as a learner -and as a teacher too, in certain teaching and learning cultures more than in others-proves those assumptions wrong. After all, who hasn’t been the object of the successful communicative language teaching method and had to supplement with old dismissed and new unaccepted learning approaches and strategies in order to lead his/her learning towards his/her learning goals? 

In any case,  my alarm went off because it’d be a very bleak environment, filled with scared teachers and automatic unresponsive students,  if a classroom didn’t allow for play and for mistakes both in the teacher’s and students’ parts. In classrooms as in life, (informed) trial and error all the way.

On Friday mornings: A full blown complaint about asymmetric motivation

Right. So it’s Friday morning. I have to wake my baby up early to be in class for ten, after dropping her off at the crèche and rush to find parking (see one of my previous posts). I groan.  It’s been a hard week and yesterday, thanks to the novena traffic it took me two hours to get home (8km). If I had foreseen it, I would have put my baby up in the Kibi© – a baby carrier -, my lifesaver so many times, and walk home or take the bus where she would have fallen asleep. I’m not the first first-time mom who would prefer to stay with her baby daughter instead of going to work but this blog post is about what makes me wake up and go to work with a will to work hard and do my best, because after all, I am passionate about my job; and this post is also about what doesn’t, about what dampens my spirit and makes me want to go into shepherding wolves instead of teaching lambs.

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I’ve got three groups of first year students and once again teachers’ expectations are not met by this cohort. What expectations I’m referring to?  Judging by the conversations I take part into on the lift or overhear down the corridor, mainly two things:

  1. previous knowledge
  2. And engagement.

We complain about the fact that they lack any sort of grammar basic knowledge in their own language or others.  We complain about the lack of language learning skills [after six or seven years of a foreign language and thirteen or fourteen of Gaeilge, you’d expect something more sophisticated than memorization or repetition]. We complain about fossilized errors that we guessed no one has corrected for either fear of stomping over the lad’s confidence or for lack of knowledge on the part of the teacher.  Or maybe this lass has never learnt from the corrections she got.

We complain that they don’t come to class.  Or when they do, we complain they haven’t brought the materials [books, handouts, homework, a pen! …]. We complain they don’t follow the course and they don’t invest their time on practicing what they learnt in class.  We complain about them in class isolated, not talking to one another, terrified of us and of one another.

And I’m tired. Tired of complaining year after year of the same things, because I refuse to believe in principle that these students are just not good enough. Something is not working in the transition to an Arts degree with languages.

In the same way, I believe that their teachers before cannot be that bad either, in primary, secondary and tertiary.  I have acted as a liaison between secondary and tertiary for the Association of Teachers of Spanish in Ireland and with the very rare exception, they were all involved and engaged individuals, but I think there is a substantial lack of communication and understanding between us and I want to start building more bridges between them and us. How? Suggestions welcome.

I think the time is ripe for a meeting between secondary and tertiary teachers of languages in general to figure out how to pair up our efforts with or without the leaving certificate curriculum.  The time is well past ripe as well to tell you this, my guap@s students: Motivation goes both ways. You need motivating teachers but we need motivating students too. At least, in college.

Love letter: As part of the campuscreate challenges this week

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(Photo from trip advisor)

(Margaret Berry, R.I.P.)

Dear Merlin Woods,
I love you. This may come as a surprise to you because I’ve only met you a year ago or so but haven’t you just helped me every day to keep my sanity, while becoming a foreigner mother in this country. Walking up and down your trails and in and out of your nooks and crannies, I have found so many hidden treasures to discover in you with my baby girl safely tied up against me.

Your trees, your orchids, your ruins, your streams, your mud, your sunshines and your shades renew me whenever I share my thoughts with you. No matter how pessimistic they come up, they photosynthesise and make me greener and healthier when I’m with you.

And I’m telling you all this today because you need to hear it. Human death inhabited you for a week, we found out yesterday. Once again, the cold wet mantle of sadness and grief tainted a corner of our vibrant city and it had to be you. The fact that you are so close to me makes it more vivid, so close to my sap. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of that poor woman, feeling the despair and the pain of loneliness that drive us into more loneliness and despair.

I wanted to scream at those smiley airbrushed people along the road, at myself, at whomever doesn’t know what to do but can think of something. We need to stop this madness. So many beautiful lives left us by the same trail in the last few years. And the crude realisation comes that those who wanna go, go. No matter. What to do? The tears cloud my creativity and clarity but the passion inside burns as hot as the tears.

And so many others who don’t wanna go are lying in hospital beds and at home, young and old. How can we organise an exchange of wills? How to help those who don’t want to and those who do and how to help ourselves in helping them?

My mind spins and spins around the same issue now and then – I’m too busy in between- every time that there’s another smiley, not-airbrushed this time, face on a poster with the word missing on top and so many desperate friends and lovers searching. But I don’t wanna be busy any more. We need to stop and think. We need to stop and find creative ways of helping and hugging and connecting with each other. Please. Otherwise what’s the point?

And what a better place to do it than in your grounds, Merlin Woods. Now more than ever. May you have granted her peace and quiet and an easy journey on.

Love you always
An anonymous walker

Time, traffic, housing, parking and planning:

(photo from https://workingmomadventures.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/fuming-1.jpg) fuming-1

(Galway, 2016. The university wants more and more students. We have expanded our campus, improved our services and the government has reduced our budget. So if the private sector does not inject more than a few bob, students or as they prefer to call them at the highest spheres, clients, will have to pay. If we do not want our fees to shoot up, we will need numbers. I understand the game and you do.

BUT let’s look beyond the campus, Galway, 2016, it seems the economy is picking up a bit. The private sector starts hiring again. Parkmore is a nightmare to drive in and out between 7.30 and 9, and 4 and 6. There’s only one way in and out of the industrial state. There’s talk of opening a second exit between ballybrit industrial state and park more but nothing is happening. The same happens at the other end of the city. If you live along the N59, you have to go down to the quincentennial bridge to access Galway East. There’s been talk of a bridge but now the university opposes because it will split the campus once more I heard. And my question is, isn’t it a bridge? Can’t it be built above the campus anyway? I’m probably too simplistic.

So we’ve got lots of new employees and hopefully lots more students and very few houses or apartments available. In other words, for the newcomer our lovely friendly and picturesque Galway turns to be a nightmare when they are looking for accommodation. I know Dublin is the same.

And when you are settled and working you spend between 60 and 180 minutes in traffic or looking for parking.

The university encourages the use of bikes but there’s no provision for cycle paths through the city and cycling on the footpath now us forbidden by law. And some of us have babies and are not confident on bikes with them yet or don’t want to subject them to the inclement weather conditions on a bike just yet. And this winter hasn’t been the friendliest towards cyclist with already storm I getting ready to storm in. I found it quite funny that the lads and lasses were giving visibility vests and lights yesterday for free to cyclists on campus, right after one of the most dangerous day to have been on a bike with winds of up to 120km/h. Cycling is great and I love it, don’t get me mistaken. I’m already looking at a seat for my baby but let’s be serious. Most people need a car in Galway.

Which leads me to my other rant, public transport is unreliable and expensive. There are very few lines that cross the city which results on having to take two buses from my house to college, which makes a 15-30 minute journey in a car, an hour long journey waiting in the cold and rain (a lot of the bus stops have no shelter) and walking as well.

And finally parking, they told us by email yesterday that there are 20.000 of us in college. And our college is right beside the hospital. There are no multi-storey (however you spell that) parkings in either, which makes you dread hit the area after 8.30 and before 3. We pay for park permits that if you have a child to stop to school you won’t use ever because by the time you arrive there’s nothing available. But what I find ridiculous is that the city doesn’t have any pay and display that goes beyond two hours in these areas. The university has but not all of them either. If I have to teach or attend three hours in a row I need to go out to try and change my car or pay again. Or if I have a doctors appointment that goes longer or is late, do I have to leave the waiting room to park again? My colleague told me he witnessed an old lady paying for a clamp for this reason in the hospital. Apart from disgraceful, Isn’t that stupid?

So yes, next time employers offer you a time management course don’t forget to bring these issues up. In all fairness, they irritate most of us much more than other issues and they contribute to the quality of life this city and university offers.

So architects, city planners and university rulers, what is the plan? Because this is not going to get better, all on it’s own.

(Disclaimer: I know this blog is supposed to be about teaching and learning and some of us may think this is outside of it. It’s not. External factors such as time and place are the key to understand the conditions of teaching and learning. I decided to write about this yesterday when I arrived five minutes late to a class with a student that had also been looking for parking. We were both stressed and the cooling down period took a good chunk of the 50 minute class. We did go on for a bit longer than usual last the end of the class but still, I felt so angry about it I wanted to call a strike 🙂 These spaniards huh? They solve everything with strikes and occupations. Well, it happened. I know of a university where staff complained and went on strike until there was provision for assigned parking for all teaching staff. Today I’m less angry about it so I just wrote about it. Grin)

Ostrich students

(Photo from http://quotesgram.com/ostriches-quotes/)
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I don’t really know much about ostriches apart from the fact that they run really fast and they bury their small heads in the sand. I don’t even know if these are facts or myths but I know that every time I chase a non-attender, – as I call them now, we used to say ghost students before- the image of the ostrich comes to my head.

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Our university year has 24 teaching weeks with a huge Christmas break in the middle; and well not really because as we aren’t allowed to schedule continuous assessment assignments outside of teaching term, the 24 weeks are never a full 24, that and public holidays. What I’m getting at is that if you take into consideration these figures, by the time you dig your own head out of the sand, the year is over and you FAIL.

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The horror.

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I’ve said the F word.
Why am I writing like this today? Well because I’m back from maternity leave and student engagement on our first year courses has not improved, it’s actually worsened. The change from four arts subjects to three hasn’t changed the situation.  Even though, it’s not easy to discern if it’s the cause of the disheartening lack of attendance, the bold levels of plagiarism in the form of google translate copy paste and the sheer lack of language learning skills in general.

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I was going up to my office in the lift and three of my colleagues were blaming our entry points which have plummeted to bottomless pits in the last few years. I’m not sure that’s the problem either: the points I mean. I’m sure though that there’s a curricular issue and an assessment issue, stemming from secondary into college. For instance, another colleague of mine complained in the same lift – our wall of sorrows? – that he had to waste 20 minutes trying to explain why ‘we’ isn’t a verb. I can’t avoid feeling shaky to the core when I hear things like this. Basic knowledge isn’t basic any more. And differences from country to country are abysmal. Wasn’t Bologna supposed to smooth this issue? Will we ever work together with the secondary curriculum emperors to ease the transition into the university world? Or are leaving certificate papers continue condemning our students to the stereotype of repetitive parrots or paraphrasing masters?

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Twice or three times I’ve flown home with a Spanish teenager who is doing leaving cert here because “it’s easier than passing it at home and on top of that I learn English”. Spanish secondary schools rank quite low in European standards and when I had them here as Erasmus students, their background knowledge and participation and engagement in class was wider and deeper than their Irish peers. There are many questions that I’m sure they would be as equally uninformed but only a school dropout would hesitate in terms of the difference between a subject pronoun and a verb. Yes, we learn grammar, lots of it, of our own language. It does not make us better at language learning but it helps us understand how we speak and why we do it the way we do it and we do sentence analysis which teaches us how words are pieces together in our language, analytical skills I guess.

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But I don’t want this blog post to turn into a them and us kinda battle. I started writing because I’m deeply worried about two things:

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– the fear of students that disengage to come back and face the consequences and remedy the situation;

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– the lack of expectations that we (teachers, parents, institutions) have of them.

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So first, yes. I spent six weeks finding a bedroom, meeting new people, going to their parties and therefore hangover. I’ve no money for books. The wifi is not working at home and my laptop is not the fastest and by the time I open blackboard there are a million handouts and I don’t know where to start. Every time I go to class, where I know no one yet; everybody seems to know what’s going on and if I’m lost the teacher will point out that I was supposed to come prepared to class so why bother.

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This is the scenario. If I walk in their shoes, I understand. I don’t sympathise though. College is NOT supposed to be fun like social night life is. It’s supposed to be fun because you love learning and you choose what to learn. I went to college and I had fun both ways in and out of the college. I disengaged from some courses that I didn’t like. But I was prepared to pay for it and I did, repeat fees. And summer study and grinds and the time I hadn’t spent on the course before even if it was just to scrape a pass. What annoys me as a boring adult teacher is the sorryyyyy and it won’t happen again kinda email. I feel like screaming in email capitals. I don’t care. It’s your life. You can spend it in the night club for all I care but in terms of my course, your grade is still a fail, which by the way, doesn’t mean I have something against you, or that you are dumb, or that you are a failure. It simply means you have to try again because you haven’t achieved the outcomes that we expected you to, oh yeah, outcomes which are challenging. They are challenging because you are clever. Yes, you are. You are in college. You got here. Think about all those others who didn’t for one reason or another. You are here and if you want to be here, you will use that intelligence to pass my course, instead of to find an excuse of how to convince me to pass you without doing the work.

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I’m not saying there are courses in first year college that you can pass without much study, in terms of hours and effort and frustration. Language tends to need all that. Languages are not for the faint hearted.

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So my dear ostrich, let’s be friends and I’ll help you take your head out of the sand, if you are ready to do what it takes. As a first year coordinator, I can sit down with you and plan your study, even if it is for August.

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How many would you think take the offer? Not even a dozen, out of hundreds. They still rely on divine providence to come and rescue them on an examination board – and believe or not, the magic of the race for student numbers may just be the forgiving omnipotent god they need.

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On the other hand is the issue of expectations. Every time I hear someone say along the lines of “oh don’t do that to them, those concepts are too hard”, I think “how offensive!”  Have we really lost all faith of the intelligence of our students? I enjoyed the days in which my students challenged me with questions I had to spend hours trying to explain to myself before giving them a class on them. It took me three years to device better explanations or the terrifying subjunctive. I got there because the Canadian students that I taught before would not take “I’m not sure it just works that way for an answer”. Bless them. They kept my teaching muscles well exercised with their inquisitive nature.

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And even though it is not in the Irish nature to push a teacher for answers, I solemnly refuse to believe that any concept is too hard for my students. Less or more hard working, less or more creative, less or more critical, all my students are intelligent individuals and therefore there isn’t a concept that is too hard for them. A concept will only be as hard as my ability to explain it and exemplify it is. And there are two things I’m confident of their intelligence and my teaching abilities. Now what to do? What to do?

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The issue is closer to the bone now because I’m terrified of sending my daughter into a school system that believes she’s not intelligent enough to outwit us all and that will not teach her how to pick up from her own mistakes and deal with the consequences of her own actions. Those consequences may be failing a course, yes. I learnt heaps from failing my leaving cert year. It was choice. I wanted to do drama instead of honours biology, physics and maths. The following year I was ready to tackle them. And I did. And it’s one of the things that I felt more proud about: how I picked up the books that second year and learnt and found ways to understand those difficult calculus buggers to understand Newton and Kepler and all of them.

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I don’t know any more though. Sometimes I do wonder if I haven’t started to sound like my parents as I enter my forties. Maybe I’m just another old teacher fart with old fashioned ideas.

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Out with the old, and in with the new.  Sarcasm is not the best way to welcome spring.

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