Is it Five Minutes, or Five Hours?
I don't get out of the office very much, but this semester, between illnesses and staffing problems, I have found myself in the classroom more than usual. I have to admit that the experience has convinced me more than ever that our small-group format is the right idea. The interaction between teacher and student, as well as between one student and another, has an exhilarating effect on everyone.
When you learn a language you inevitably also learn a culture. Through our interaction we have come to learn a great deal about each other's cultures. It makes a difference to our students, who are trying to fit in.
I had the opportunity to listen to a brief lecture by an English scholar named Sir Ted Robinson. He talked about how our education system is faulty, in that it follows a kind of Industrial Age model. We put students on the assembly line at an early age and after a period of time - 12, 16, perhaps 20 years - out comes a finished product, ready to enter society.
Except that, according to Robinson, such a model defies human nature, and denies natural talents. The result is boredom and apathy--a five minute class that seems like five hours. A better model, according to Robinson, would be a personalized curriculum, one that would allow the individual to follow his/her passions. He gave examples of such people as Einstein, Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, all of whom left school before finishing their studies.
Our students may not be a Gates, Einstein or Jobs, but they do have the freedom to develop along their own preferred lines. They define success -- and they have the freedom to pursue if!
Wishing you happiness and freedom this holiday season.
PS: You can listen to Sir Ted's short speech here.