Practical Part 2
I just spent a delightful (but tiring!) weekend at the Korea TESOL conference in Seoul. Met so many teachers that I only knew online – it was truly overwhelming. A special thanks to all those who took in my presentations and/or helped with getting the news out about EnglishCentral. You are all essential components in this push to transform the way students learn English.
But I’m not writing a self congratulatory piece. What I’d like to reflect upon is a thought that came over me as I was giving my talk about “The Flipped Classroom”.
My presentation was well attended and I think I accomplished my goal – to provoke a new way of thinking about how we deliver our curriculum / classes. That said, as I was going through my slides and outlining the what/how/why of the Flipped Classroom, I kept having a strange feeling come over me. I wanted to “STOP” and get off this train, stop and just talk with everyone. Discuss, relate, bob and weave. Flow. Why should I have a goal, a method beyond us being / sharing / learning together?
You see, presentations and workshops as we know them are fake. Contrived performances. We all agree not to see the pink elephant in the room. You can call this beast many things; power, protocol, role playing, “going through the motions” etc… but it all boils down to most presentations being an event with a social veneer – a veneer that says, “I agree to listen and do what you want – you agree to play the authority and all knowing”. Then, the next one and so on….
Again, I say this is a crock and we should be doing more to make it so that each person in the room finds relevance, gets connected, is energized. But how to do this without the conventions of “the presentation”? How to deal with the pink elephant in the room, an elephant that I think was laughing at me while I was presenting?
What if we had presentations without a set topic? Where people show up without an organized agenda. Where the discussion goes this way and that way – as the experience and knowledge of those in the room dictate and NOT as the set delivery of the typical presentation would dictate.
I would love just to go to a conference as David Deubelbeiss. No topic, no agenda (or as Van Morrison might have said, “no teacher, no guru, no method”). Just come and let me share my knowledge, scatter my filing cabinet onto the floor for all to see. Teachers could come and get what they want – not what the presentation dictated they must learn. The discussion could range from where to download great video content to the role of grammar in direct instruction. It could have stories or hard data. It could roam into applied linguistics or talk about making our students happy in the classroom. They key is – no set agenda/course. The focus is on the art of the presenter to direct the winds that arrive from those in the room. To guide the ship and bravely sail into “knowing”.
What if ……