Teacher-Centered, Part 1 (not a video)

I wanted to post another video but it’s late and this sleepshadowed house is just too magically quiet, too miraculously still just now; I don’t want to disturb the zen! It’s like a mirror-perfect ambrosial pond that you don’t want anything to touch and disturb the smooth surface of. The stillness is also weighted comfortably by an unseasonal cool – in my little neck of the jungle anyway (usually April in Thailand = sweat-drenched by breakfast). I just don’t dare disturb it with clangy vloggery lest the spell be broken. But I did have something I wanted to share.

It’s on the same theme as this month’s iTDi (upcoming) blog issue concerned with “things you wish you knew when you started teaching”. One thing I wish I understood better & sooner as a younger teacher is: what ‘teacher-centered’ means (and doesn’t).

A ‘teacher-centered’ dynamic, I learned early on, is something bad. Not just bad – truly horrible. Why? The mind-map around ‘teacher-centered’ includes things like boring, self-indulgent, unaware, disengaged, lecture, egotistical, misguided, unsophisticated, even cruel. Why cruel? Because by being teacher-centered you are depriving learners of the opportunity to act. They are passive, they are (I guess) DE-centered. Why egotistical? The center of attention is you.

How dare you.

Very early on, in the absence of…well, really ANY solid knowledge of a wide array of language and instructional concerns, this kind of melodramatic, broad-as-broad-can-be-stroke sense of a ‘good vs. evil’ struggle of ELT was front and center to me. I didn’t know how to teach, but it seemed like if I stayed on the bright path of ‘learner-centeredness’ I’d be okay. I’d say for me this idea actively animated my whole view of the new world I was peering into. My TEFL (B-)movie had a director and his name was Learners B. Centre. He was no Orson Wells. But he sure knew plot. It was all very compelling.

What I wish I realized sooner was that the concept of ‘X-centered’ is…

/ok, two things have happened that will make this Part 1 of 2: first, the cool stillness and the slow typing on a phone keyboard have helped 2am creep up and second, I’ve just learned that PLN member, #ELTchat regular and all-around “never met her but totally love her” person Glenys Hanson has passed away so it’s time to just think about my memories of interactions with her.

*Silent Drums* for Glenys

*My wife grabbed that drum this afternoon after my niece and step-father and I had finished practicing for a upcoming short performance at a community center. For my part I’m playing a beautiful little traditional quiet droning gong-bell…and I will think of Glenys and her elegant and knowing ‘silent way’ philosophies as I play it.

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