Task Discussion

  • Espen Stranger-Johannessen   19 juni 2011 08:57

    I've read the chapter twice, still I'm not quite sure how to respond to it. What comes to mind is my experience with learning Hindi. I recently spent a month in New Delhi, and decided to learn the language by hiring a student from a nearby university as a tutor. A dozen students responded to my request, and I started "trying them out". I was generally not very happy with either of them, but eventually settled with two–tree, and ended up with one the last week. I thought that as a language teacher myself I should be able to stear the direction of the class and sort of be my of teacher, but it didn't really work very well. What was lacking, I felt, was a proper textbook (I had several "Teach Yourself Hindi", but not apt for a class, I felt), and a sort of progress – building up grammar and vocabulary step by step. Also, I might add, a teacher's sense of making simple conversation or monologue in the target language.

    A few years ago I studied French, German and Spanish, for one/two months, in different language schools. I absolutely loved it, and felt that I learned a lot. There was no textbook, but since these languages are much easier for me than Hindi, there was less of a need. I've also studied Persian in a similar way, with a textbook. What is striking is the the feeling that in the "schooled" setting, with or without a textbook, but with a teacher capable of taking control, leading the way, I felt that I learned a lot, it "worked". Without this "schooled" aspect, and in spite of the fact that I'm now an experienced language teacher and language learner, I felt that the "unschooled" DIY approach didn't really work.

    This brings me to the bounderies of "school", or should I say – what is "school" in Illich's sense of the word. Would the private/university-run language courses I took qualify as "school", or are they too detached from the system of grades, evaluations, state curriculum etc.? And my own Hindi tutors, were they completely "unschooled" – or did the self-imposed structure make it resemble regular schooling?

  • Maria Droujkova   19 juni 2011 15:56
    Reageer op:   Espen Stranger-Johannessen   19 juni 2011 08:57

    The question about boundaries of "school" is an excellent prompt!

    In the situation you describe, I am thinking about technologies for achieving flow in learning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29

    These technologies can frequently be found at schools, just like technologies for making mechanisms depending on internal combustion can be frequently found at car factories.

    But I think the technologies are separate and separable from, say, administration of schools.