This article on Demand High was published in English Teaching Professional Issue 85
Filed under Uncategorized
Looking forward to reading it…..
It’s difficult to argue with any of these ideas on their own terms. Most teachers I’ve met are conscientious and do, in principle, want to ‘demand high’ of their students and challenge them to achieve more. What there is insufficient acknowledgement and discussion of, however, is the real context in which much language teaching takes place. The approaches and activities which are recommended here seem to assume a classroom full of highly motivated learners who are only too wiling to show effort and initiative if given the permission to do so. I’ve been lucky enough to have classes like that, and it certainly is a challenge to the teacher to find ways to open up those possibilities. I’ve also had classes where the learners, by and large, do not want to be challenged, neither want or expect to show initiative, and resent being nudged outside their comfort zone of utter teacher dependence and lethargy. This might be partly due to poor teaching or classroom management. It may just as equally be due to the previous learning experiences of the students, their age, not to mention sometimes sheer overwork and tiredness. The example given in the article of holding back when answers are given, allowing the questions to hang in the air, to be taken up, mulled over and developed by other students assumes those students are listening in the first place, and not chatting to each other in their mother tongue about something else entirely or covertly checking their messages on their mobile phone.
I’m not dismissing these ideas, as I believe they have merit. However, perhaps we should recognize that, to some extent at least, ‘demand low’ teaching is driven by the sheer nature of the EFL industry, and the pressures and constraints teachers and students alike are under.
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