Demand High is a meme!
A number of people have enthusiastically greeted (or critically denounced) Demand High as a new “method”.
It isn’t. We are clear about that!
Though, to be fair, we weren’t really sure what it was. Recently we’ve started referring to it as a meme. This article explains our thinking.
Why Demand High isn’t a method
We reckon that much of current ELT methodology is fine. We are not intending to polarize a set of new ideas against any older set. But we do think that there are gaps, oversights. And they are important ones.
As the communicative approach and its variations have evolved and grown, ELT has gathered a useful set of classroom aims, materials, practices and techniques.
With Demand High, we simply wish to point out that, alongside these, there has perhaps grown up an over-attention to mechanics of task and material and to the pursuit of “fun” and an under-attention to the moment-by-moment learning that our practices might or might not lead to.
So, we are not asking to throw out infant and bathwater. We are proposing a small course correction to our current direction of travel – or whatever direction of travel you are taking in your teaching approach.
Why Demand High is a meme
The meme is a concept from Richard Dawkins and means “a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena …”. We are using articles, website, conference presentations and workshops, resources and so on.
Whether ‘real’ or not, we find the meme a helpful concept to suggest that, at its heart, Demand-High is just an idea that travels – not a method, approach, instruction book, guideline, saleable product or anything else.
One interesting thing that comes from this choice of terminology is that no-one owns it. A meme has a life of its own. Although we have started this idea out on its journey into the wider world, how it evolves and changes and lives or dies is beyond our control. Similarly, its meaning is flexible and will adjust and shift with time and differing inputs from others.
For us, at this point, the Demand High meme carries the idea of expecting more of your learners and, as a result, challenging them more fully and differently. The meme represents a learnING centred view of teaching rather than a learnER centered one. Some of the separate ideas and techniques that can carry the Demand High meme will be familiar, but we think that the gathering of them together for this specific purpose alongside newer concepts and techniques, and as a meme rather than as a product or thing, is new.