rx-symbolThe other night I watched an interesting news program profiling a doctor who writes out prescriptions for exercise to many of his patients. He writes out what they should do every day and like medicine, expects it to be done and completed just like we should take our medicine until the bottle is empty.

I thought this pretty cool and it got me thinking …. what if teachers were doctors? What would we prescribe as a natural remedy? What do our students REALLY need so that we aren’t just masking symptoms and giving false hopes to students (which we do by giving them class lessons, grammar pills, explicit error correction etc …. by playing teacher and not “healer”).

Here are a couple things I think teachers should prescribe in a perfect world, if they want their students to really get educated, learn and achieve in the classroom.

1. Money, money, more money. Yes, the number on reason so many students do poorly in school is tied to their socio-economic status. We’d do much better pursuing public and equitable education where each student has access to the things they need to succeed – be that books, technology, 3 meals a day, a family life not stressed by need …… Research shows dramatically that this is the most effective remedy for student achievement across the board – just like exercise in many cases is the most effective way to achieve health.

2. Friends. Yes, I’m serious. Connect students with friends who have the same interests and get them connecting. Education is constructed and so strongly constructed through peer relationships. In TESOL, we should not be teaching but prescribing friends from overseas so our students can use their English purposefully. Why not a project which entails connecting daily / weekly with a real buddy overseas? So easy now with skype and SN (social networking). Unless English is purposefully used, classroom study is futile and it is a waste of money on teachers, classrooms, resources. A colossal waste. I spent 13 years, 5 hours a week, being taught French in school. I always passed, did well but couldn’t even ask where the washroom was after all that “study”. Not until I lived in France did I ever begin to speak and REALLY learn French. A pox on all school systems that teach English without a connection to the real world.

What would you prescribe as a teacher-doctor? What could we prescribe to really solve the major illness of our students studying English in class for years but never learning a thing? Be honest!