WHAT DO MY STUDENTS LOVE MOST?

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– They love to be praised even when they do not deserve that at all. They believe the right attitude might change things around.

– They love to be instructed in the mother tongue especially when they feel confused.

– They love to be treated as individuals instead of pairs or groups of students. They think they do not benefit at all from cooperative tasks.

– They love to put the blame for failure on the school administration. They claim that the system is responsible for their lack of success.

– They love to be spoon-fed knowledge instead of being allotted space for discovery.  They say they cannot be expected to discover while not proficient enough.

Clearly they do not share the same values as most instructors do. Oddly enough, they do not match the definition of the 21st century learners depicted every so often by language teaching circles across the globe.

big question

by gracespace.org.uk

Then someone is totally wrong about the approach to learning. It is either the students because they may not be really enthusiastic about self-development or the teachers who might have a serious misconception about what students really need and even about what would work best in the classroom.

Is there really a point in insisting that the current view of how learning should take place is the correct one? Or is it ever possible to make sure that students will feel better and more motivated to learn if teachers adopt the student way?

Personally speaking, the answers from students reveal something a lot deeper in meaning. As they list what they would love most for their classes, they also pinpoint the fact that some teachers still need further training for the implementation of the methods and techniques required for creating a more meaningful learning experience for their students.

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10 responses to “WHAT DO MY STUDENTS LOVE MOST?

  1. Çağdaş,

    Love this post – not only for its honesty but because it puts the cat among the pigeons with the questions you ask.

    Yes, many teachers face this type of “mismatch” – as they LEARN and grow as ELL professionals. Many of them ask themselves whether they should shelve their values and beliefs (and just “do” what they students “want”) – a lot of them (if they are honest) already do ;-(

    The question is, of course, where did students LEARN all these beliefs and LEARNing preferences?

    From “us”…from their “schools”!

    T..

  2. Here’s another cat among the pigeons… Cagdas, you could take each of your 5 initial statements and say almost the same thing of many of our colleagues as well.

    1.”They love to be praised even when they do not deserve that at all. They believe the right attitude might change things around.” This is simple human nature and while not always deserved, we all like to hear praise. But empty praise, insincere praise, is more destructive than no praise at all. How often in a staff room do you hear statements such as “but I worked so hard to get that done” or ” It took me a long time to create that lesson and they didn’t appreciate it.” If our students learn from what we say and do, they also learn this attitude.

    2.”They love to be instructed in the mother tongue especially when they feel confused.” I cannot even begin to remember how many staff meeting discussions quickly turn to mother tongue because it is the language they know best, why not let the students do the same if, when it helps?

    3.”They love to be treated as individuals instead of pairs or groups of students. They think they do not benefit at all from cooperative tasks.”
    Much staff task group work and many faculty development sessions are generally reduced to ‘gabfests’ in short order. And we expect more from the students, why?

    4.”They love to put the blame for failure on the school administration. They claim that the system is responsible for their lack of success.” No comment needed, is there?

    5.”They love to be spoon-fed knowledge instead of being allotted space for discovery. They say they cannot be expected to discover while not proficient enough.” Hence the ‘coursebook mentality’ in so many schools and so many ELT classrooms. How many times have we heard a colleague say “I can do it if I have the Teacher’s Book” (meaning all the answers and work supplied for them.)

    Yes, Cagdas, we teachers do need to reflect, but many of us may not like that which appears in the reflection so choose not to see, accept it. Passing the blame on to our students is easy, wrong, but easy.

    • Sir, thank you very much for taking the time to write such a valuable comment. As you also suggest, students are the reflections of all the teachers whom they have had. Then, it would not be wrong for teachers to change themselves before they attempt to change students. I totally agree with you on your perspective.
      All the best,
      Çağdaş

  3. Great Post Guven. Well said! Also sad reality.

    Interesting how the outcomes of a “bank education” seems to be every where. It was like you were talking about Brazil actually. But I am also glad to know that there are people out there doing what it takes to change students into learners. It is not a lot though to chance the whole system. 😦

  4. Hm…I guess it is misleading to talk about learners as one group and say what they like or dislike. Clearly, there are highly motivated learners who know HOW to learn and do that with fair amount of motivation and enthusiasm. And then there are learners who do not feel motivated (for millions of reasons) and whatever teachers do, they won’t suddenly turn into eager followers and curious explorers.
    I personally feel that many new methods and approaches appeal to a great amount of students. At least, that’s what they have told me.
    Maybe, and that’s only a tiny maybe, we, the teachers expect something that is not truly realistic? We expect happy and satisfied students all the time. Maybe we expect constant progress and success?
    But learning is often tough and tedious. Learning is hard work. And no matter how much fun we try to make it seem, no matter what techniques and methods we use the effort is theirs to make. Take it or leave it.

    • “The effort is theirs to make”. I have no objection to that, but students should not harbour the belief that teachers are the only sources they have. In today’s world, it would be totally unrealistic to stick to only one way of learning.
      I’m really glad that you have taken your time to leave such a nice comment.

  5. Great blog! I enjoy reading your insights and find them thought-provoking. Getting back to this particular entry, you’re right. In the 10+ years that I’ve been in the Esl field, I would have to say just about every student I’ve encountered has told me one or more of the desires you’ve listed. It’s what they want but, is it really what they need in order to be able to aquire proficiency in a second language? I believe the key to getting them to agree to participate in activities that we know will lead to learning, we need to first build their trust in us and then, allow them to take it slowly, one step at a time. Allow them to use what they learn immediatly in task based activities. As they start to see that they are actually making progress, their trust in our techniques will grow and they will participate far more willingly. I would never tell my surgeon WHAT he has to do, I would just want to heal so, I would choose a surgeon I trust, follow instructions explicitly and expect results. I think the real question is, are WE as teachers convinced that task-based, guided discovery activities lead to true language acquisition. Because if we don’t trust in these CELTA methods how could we possibly expect our students to trust in us. Food for thought….

    • Thank you for the comment. It is so great that I want to write an equally worthy-of-consideration reply to that. I promise I will do that in a couple of days. I especially like the part where you state “I would never tell my surgeon WHAT he has to do, I would just want to heal so, I would choose a surgeon I trust, follow instructions explicitly and expect results”. Thank you again for your time.
      Güven

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