October 28, 2005

Rhetoric and reality

When I started this blog about a year ago, I felt I was unable to really see what was going on in my own classroom, but I couldn't explain why this was. It felt like a veil: I was aware of my own lesson plans, and of what I expected students to do, but not aware of what they were actually doing. This was something I was often challenged on in my teacher-training days: "So you will play the tape; what will students be doing?" "Erm, listening." (Pregnant pause). "Really? How will you know? And what reasons have you given them for listening?" "Erm..." (sounds of drawing board being set up again).

After reading this, tho, I wonder if I've been influenced by the rhetoric that surrounds and pervades education? Then the rhetoric would create this veil, an illusion that I think is real, but is only really a reflection of my own beliefs, of the "script" I'm telling myself about how things are. After all, I see a classroom (four walls, a door, a blackboard, lots of tables and chairs); I see students (people, who come into the classroom and sit down at the desks, facing me).

If you say students, you automatically think people who've come here to learn. Assumptions. It makes it that much harder to see the human beings who come before you.

This unpleasant experience made me angry. And the energy provided by the anger somehow pierced the veil of the rhetoric. I suddenly refused to lie to myself.

The rhetoric can be a veil of dishonesty that I draw across actual behaviour, actual classroom practices, and that prevents me from seeing what is really going on.

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