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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch, that smarts.

Thanks for dropping by Mike. I have found your column at times interesting, but here maybe you have bit off more than you expected. You claim it's only an op-ed piece, but that doesn't preclude you from making points that you can back up with some evidence. The biggest obstacle you have run across is this statement about kids not conversing. I'm confused at best, if they don't communicate (and loudly at times), I don't know what they do.


JimDunlop2 posted
Quote:
Let me say, first of all, that I cannot list a whole bunch of qualifications and degrees like Mike can, but I DO have a level 60 druid on World of Warcraft and can play a really mean game of foosball.

I knew it! Twisted Evil I too, live a charmed life Cool , if only a virtually charmed one!


Last edited by gaijinalways on Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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mikeguest



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Miyazaki, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I’d offer some more thoughts regarding the assertion made in my article that “children don’t have conversations” since it seems to be a major source of conflict (or, in some cases, outright disbelief).

I think we can all agree that at some age children do not have anything that we could reasonably call a conversation and that by a certain age, most normal people can. So, any discussion would probably admit there is at least an age cline on this issue. My son is 11 and we’ve been having what I’d call conversations only for a short time.

Obviously this will hinge a bit on what one means by conversation. So let me define myself by saying what conversations are NOT.

As mentioned in the article, exchanges of the instrumental type (“Where’s the remote control? Under the TV. Where? Under the TV!”) or basic social exchanges (“Thank you. You’re welcome” etc.) would not normally be called “conversations” by most. (This begs the initial poster's question as to why not teach these kinds of exchanges- which I plan to deal with later).

Service encounters (e.g., in a shop- clerk and customer) are not conversations, although they can evolve into conversations.

Interviews, like Grandma asking a series of questions to Johnny- with Johnny offering only answers, are not conversations although Grandma will be apt to say, “I had a nice conversation with Johnny today!”. But, to use a structurally parallel form, when questioned by the police you wouldn’t say that you had just had a “conversation” with them.

The use of a single gambit also does not constitute conversation, although I suspect that this is what teachers are referring to when they say that they teach conversation. Do corpora of children’s speech indicate a combination of gambits? Not that I know of.

Those of you familiar with conversation analysis will be knowledgeable about the various qualities that characterize L1 conversation (turn-taking, sequencing, TCUs, pragmatics, topic-selection and change, repair, features of face and politeness, the appropriate choice of gambits, plus those all-important features of extension and development. I think you’d probably agree that many of these demand higher-order cognitive and social interaction skills. Even where kids utilize one or two of these features (and they do!) in L1 it tends to be in a very limited and immature form- which shouldn’t surprise anyone- they’re kids after all!
(I’m sure that none of you actively teach “conversational analysis features” to your child students but many of the models, expectations, texts, formulas, targets, practices etc. do seem to assume them. After all, without them it wouldn’t be…well… conversation).

Finally, have you ever read a novel where children speak or have seen a movie where children have large parts? Doesn’t it often seem like they don’t really talk like children- that they seem to be utilizing some higher order socio-cognitive skills that real kids generally don’t exhibit? That it seems a little forced, artificial? This is because in such cases adults are projecting an adult view of conversation (or other complex social interactions) onto children. I think that some textbooks, activities, ESL approaches, and teacher-made classroom materials make the same mistake.

I welcome thoughtful comments on the above. Anyway, I’ll write a little more on some of the other controversial (or, IMO, misunderstood) parts of the article next.

Late note- I see that there have been some responses since my previous post. I’ll try to deal with some of the points raised soon. It’s a busy time of year and there are several points one could discuss…

Yoroshiku,
M.G.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm interested in 1) the way that children talk (~ naturally) to each other (this ranges from exchange to conversation, just like adult-adult talk does); 2) the way that adults talk to children (and vice-versa), and how this might differ from 1; 3) what kind of language is generally taught to kids and how (based upon an understanding, or not, as the case may be, of 1 and 2); and 4) what kind of language could be taught to kids, and how, and WHY (see below).

I wonder how far 3 diverges from 2 let alone 1, even with teachers who are aware of the differences - there is a temptation, indeed a tendency to treat kids either like miniature adults (e.g. by forcing them to never quite master a variety of actually quite formal/adult phrases: Sts: Nice to meet you (too)! T2+: I haven't even told you my name yet!; (later) T2+: How are you? Sts: How are you? T2+: Nooo! LOL), or as "children" too much (to the extent that the 'English' they learn is always defective in relation to at least its context of use, and perhaps in general too. See for example the 'Cucumber, please' skit that chirp mentioned on page 1, and note the omission there of the indefinite article (or ?the number 'one' - though the latter would be acceptable in a list of e.g. 1 cucumber, 2 melons and 6 apples, please). I'm not criticizing chirp, he sounds a good teacher, I'm just asking if the intricacies of ordering vegetables whilst shopping are approriate for these 'non-paying' customers, especially when there are easier and/or more valuable linguistic items to learn (and cries of 'Too difficult!' if one did indeed foolishly dare to do justice to the language by means of this area of 'vegetable(s LOL) shopping').

Generally I try to be pretty wide-eyed and child-like with kids, so that I am talking and relating on their level, and when I do reason more as an adult might with them, it's in order to explain, comment upon, highlight things (in ways that adults could feel were slightly patronizing i.e. about things that are obvious to adults at least...but actually, I never set out to patronize even kids, sometimes I maybe even talk to them like they are fellow adults - 5) (> 4)?)=adult-adult speech, which we all presumably know quite a bit more about than the other types I listed above). The main thing though is valuing what they say, especially when it's in English (perhaps the very English that you've taught them!).
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mikeguest



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Miyazaki, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I should write some justifications for a focus on reading over conversation in primary schools:
1. Domain- The private sector already specializes in conversation.
2. Difficulty- Reading is receptive, conversation is productive. It’s pretty much an established notion that productive skills and more difficult to teach and develop than receptive skills. You can take a poll of Japanese learners of English on this one if you like.
3. Complexity- Conversation utilizes speaking, listening, pronunciation, an interlocutor, some knowledge of social propriety, real-time responses and interactions. Reading (in normal cases) contains none of these complex variables.
5. General Utility- Which- conversation or reading skills- are Japanese people likely to utilize more frequently and widely (remember, this is EFL AND the age of the internet)
6. Fecundity- Which is more likely, that patterns encountered when reading can be adapted into productive (esp. conversation) skills? Or that conversation skills will somehow aid in reading? I think you’ll find that the research supports the former (although in ESL you can find research out there to back up almost anything)
7. Resources- Which, reading or conversation, is a Japanese teacher going to feel more comfortable with and to be able to contribute more accurately to?
8. Extra-classroom utility and reinforcement- This is EFL, not ESL. Conversation demands an interlocutor. Once the lesson ends where will it be used? Reading demands only a text. It can be studied alone, at home and according to the interests of the reader.

Of course virtually anything that one does regarding or related to English in a classroom could possibly have some positive effect, but questions of priority and utility are paramount. Listing bus parts could conceivably impact a learner in some way but the returns would clearly be limited.

Another thought- It is pretty widely believed now that there is no viable pedagogical grammar. So I find it curious that some would seem to argue that there is somehow a “conversation pedagogy”.

Anyway, indicating a preference for developing reading skills over conversation skills is fairly widespread among teachers, theorists, and casual observers, often because of some or many of the above reasons. Taking this position is hardly a shocking one at all. Many primary school teachers I have talked to have expressed such feelings, some certainly more ferociously than me, which was one of the buoys for writing the article. Some have expressed agreement on this thread too. A lot of what I said has pretty widespread support out there- if I thought it was truly of Swiftian proportions- in terms of willful absurdity- I wouldn’t be publishing it..

Sidebar to Jim D.-
I don’t set out to be unorthodox for unorthodoxy’s sake but, as I said earlier, I do try to take positions that do not just reinforce the standard conbini-style ESL and hopefully, generate some 2nd thoughts. If I can get pretentious for a moment (and you know that I will!), I want the articles to be the rhetorical equivalent of a tritone in music. It may somehow feel “wrong” at first but the more you listen to it, the more you may find that it “holds up” aurally than more “standard” musical forms.

And actually, I think a newspaper is precisely the place to do this. After all, it’s not a research paper- lacking evidence, as you say- so research journals would be inappropriate (although studying to what extent children actually exhibit qualities of conversation might well be a good research proposal). Newspaper readers will also know that such a piece is not reportage, but commentary. You’ll find that- especially in the supplements that the Yomiuri often include- frank, and opinionated, discussion columns of various relevant issues is a staple of the newspapers. And of course what you’ll also find here is not “evidence”, but rather “support”, which is more rhetorical and anecdotal. And that’s what the Yomiuri seems to want from me.

P.S. Everybody calls me Mike except my son, who will call me “gaijin” on occasion. Oh- and I did have one more credential but lost it in a poker game to David Nunan.

Yoroshiku,
M.G.
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mikeguest



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 6
Location: Miyazaki, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi "gaijinalways".

Regarding your post. I do make a (fairly large) distinction between conversation and communication. The former is a (fairly complex) subset of the latter.

Clearly children do communicate and I certainly do believe that L2 communication skills can be learned by children. But the notion of actively teaching discrete-item targets and presuming that this equals communication, and that the kids will somehow append these to some more holistic L2 system is something that I find problematic. I'll deal with this more in my next post.

Yoroshiku,
M.G.
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MrCAPiTUL



Joined: 06 Feb 2006
Posts: 232
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Challenge kids - don't lower the bar.

Watch the movie Idiocracy if you ever get a moment. That movie has a very strong message.
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JimDunlop2



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 2286
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Despite your latest response(s), Mike, my original challenges still stand. That is, if you care to address them. If not, that's fine -- where my responses to your op-ed piece will rest is just where I left them.

Anyway, seeing that we probably won't see eye to eye on the definition of a conversation, I still ask you the same question as in my last post: namely, what kind of reading can a person teach when the kids are exposed to L2 for 45 minutes once every two months, with NOTHING in between (due to equally unqualified teachers who cannot even review the simplest of materials with the kids)?
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MR. CAPITUL,
Your remarks are unworthy and undeserved here. If you have nothing productive to say, why post such lame comments? If you seemingly support Mike, why the puerile comments equating the rest of us to children?

Mike,
It's early morning and I don't know if I can respond to everything you've written. Still working on my first jolt of caffeine. I'll give it a try, though. You've written 2 fairly long posts, so it will take a moment to get through the info.

FIRST POST.
Quote:
I think we can all agree that at some age children do not have anything that we could reasonably call a conversation
No, we don't agree, and that is one big reason you have attracted fire.

Quote:
My son is 11 and we’ve been having what I’d call conversations only for a short time.
And, my child is almost 4. We have conversations, too, although probably not what you define as such. Here is the rub. Definition of conversation and openness to accept what each other perceives.

You say conversations are not:
instrumental exchanges,
social exchanges,
service encounters,
interviews.

I disagree wholeheartedly. Let's put aside the concept of a primary school child doing any of the above. Put an adult in that position, whether the adult is an EFL learner or not. In my mind, all of the above are indeed conversations (or in the case of a social exchange as brief as you have shown, the start of one)! So, why are they not applicable to kids?

Instrumental exchanges ... uh... exchange information. One asks, one replies. Give and take. Pretty much a basic tenet of conversation. Two people exchanging information of a sort.

Social exchanges. Your all-too-limited example can easily be expanded, even into a sentence (or partial one) or two. How's the weather? How's the husband, Mrs. Cramden? Nice car; when did you get it? How about those Yankees, eh? Wouldn't you say that if you had such exchange between neighbors that you'd had even a small conversation, even in passing? I think most people would. So, why not with kids? And, besides, you have to start somewhere, right? Kids are not going to be taught long oratories, written or spoken, from day one.

Service encounters. Come with me and my kid next time we go to the 100-yen shop or Seven-Eleven. He is learning politeness and how to talk to clerks. Here in the land of perpetual politeness, this is practically a given to teach kids even in L1, so why not L2 and why not call it the start of conversations? "Would you like a bag?" "Can I give you the change?" "How old are you?" "How about those Yankees, eh?" (Well, ok, not the last one, but pretty close.)

Interviews. This strikes me as the most surprising example you gave. Interviews are by nature a direct exchange of information. Whether little Johnny grunts words in response to Grandma, or spits out complete sentences, he is responding in a conversation. Or, when you sit on a panel discussion or at the podium during a class or after a presentation, and the audience asks you pointed questions, do you not call this a form of conversation? Sauce for the goose.

Just because conversation is the "domain" of private organizations (something I would argue right off, and a simple refute would be to have you sit in on any class of youngsters who are probably not sitting robot-like and silent, but using and being taught conversation), why would you wish to see families spending more money to send them to eikaiwas? Family economies are strapped as they are, and as already pointed out to you, few people actually spend the money on this age group for such purposes. Moreover, since you agree that exposure is important, why restrict it from primary schools and further limit the progress of youngsters, especially in a country where they get limited exposure outside of the classroom as it is?

Reading is receptive. Yes, and it is also productive. Come to any of my reading classes and I'll show you. Or maybe you should read some of the journals on that. Polling learners now? C'mon, Mike. We're talking about primary school kids. Ask them if reading English or speaking English is harder to do? I'm not as confident as you in the response. Conversation is not just productive; it is receptive, too. That's why we have ears and cognitive processes. You really need to teach or visit OC classes more.

Complexity. Conversation indeed involves all those things. And, by omission, you have thus implied that reading is a piece of cake involving hardly any processing skills whatsoever. Bad argument. You know as well as most people (perhaps even more so) that reading has hurdles, too: learning the alphabet itself (capitalization as well as lower case letters), word formation, word order, grammar, a measure of pronunciation (if you teach reading as more than a silent passive activity, anyway, which is pretty much what you see when primary school kids read aloud in groups), syntax, phonics, predictive capabilities, descriptions, etc. Again, I have to refer to our own kids' experiences at home before they went to school of any kind. Which did they learn sooner -- reading or speaking?

General utility. You assume that the Internet is something that people will use more often than speaking (English, anyway). Come to any high school and ask kids of that age to do a search on a topic. You'll see that the vast majority use Japanese sites, not English ones. While it is true that there are a limited number of English speakers around (heck, only 2% of the whole population is foreign, and that doesn't mean they all speak English), the idea of teaching OC is not so that they can chat in the playground with a rare English-speaking playmate. It is to prime them for junior high and to reduce the down time in their learning. Or don't you believe that getting them this young is better than waiting until they are JHS age?

Fecundity. (I like this word. Almost made me open my dictionary.) You are arguing in circles here. Chicken and the egg. Reading supports conversation which supports reading, etc. at nauseum. The point is, which is easier to use to reach the kids, and the answer is speaking. Plus, it has a benefit which you have ignored, and that is, for students with vastly different phonemic patterns in L1, speaking gives them practice to learn those different phonemes instead of fossilizing problematic situations. [Yesterday alone, I just taught a university course where I asked students to tell me what missing words they heard in a simple listening activity. Plenty of mistakes along these lines. Students would say they heard working instead of walking, really instead of rarely, just as 2 examples. I purposely used these words in the exercise so I could demonstrate correct pronunciation practice (something many students are very happy to receive). But, these are 18 and 19 year old students who should have learned the differences much earlier in life, yet hadn't. Pity, because I would rather be focusing on other skills with a bit higher critical thinking ability. After all, it was a reading and listening course.]

Resources. Again, you presuppose that only a Japanese teacher will have access to them. Bad logic. In the first place, yes, many (most?) primary schoolteachers are not trained or experienced in teaching EFL. But, that itself should be rectified instead of merely brushing it away as an unchangeable fact. And, in the meantime, since those same teachers themselves can barely call themselves passable in their English skills, I don't see how you can state that they'll feel "comfortable" with teaching reading in English in the first place. I envision lots of picture books with single word entries and lots of Japanese explanations, but that would involve speaking in English as well as reading it.

Extra-classroom locutors and reinforcement. Well, you yourself said that this is the domain of the private sector. I agree that reading is perhaps far easier to take home and practice, but at this point in our discussion, I think that is the only one in favor of reading over speaking.

Quote:
I find it curious that some would seem to argue that there is somehow a “conversation pedagogy”.
I don't have the benefit of your education and publication record, but I would challenge this strongly unless you can qualify it more. My challenge is simply to sit in on some eikaiwa classes, especially for the youngsters. You may find that it is not as willy-nilly as you let on.

Quote:
Anyway, indicating a preference for developing reading skills over conversation skills is fairly widespread among teachers, theorists, and casual observers, often because of some or many of the above reasons. Taking this position is hardly a shocking one at all. Many primary school teachers I have talked to have expressed such feelings, some certainly more ferociously than me, which was one of the buoys for writing the article.
Is that "many" in the majority? Government officials could argue that "many" people feel English itself doesn't even belong in the primary schools, but is "many" the majority of people? Look at what happened when the government decided to cut public school days -- the public uproar changed that fact in about 2 years. We're going back to Saturday schedules soon.

Quote:
You’ll find that- especially in the supplements that the Yomiuri often include- frank, and opinionated, discussion columns of various relevant issues is a staple of the newspapers. And of course what you’ll also find here is not “evidence”, but rather “support”, which is more rhetorical and anecdotal. And that’s what the Yomiuri seems to want from me.
Don't blame the Yomiuri newspaper for paying you to make comments that attract fire. Who put the gun to your head?
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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike,

Thanks for your timely responses. More of the background of the thinking behind your oped column has emerged, and we realize due to space and time constraints that your column couldn't cover all aspects that you might have liked to examine in the article.

An issue I would like to raise is whether you think Internet skills or communication skills (we differ on the definition of conversation, we'll leave that point of contention for the moment) are going to be more useful. Your column hints at that you feel the average Japanese kid is unlikely to have a conversation with a non-Japanese speaking kid (or adult) and thus reading skills which can be used to navigate the Internet might be more useful. I think it would depend on the child and how often they travel. Also to consider, many of my university students don't possess good Internet searching/reading skills in Japanese, so I would guess that younger kids are even less likely to have such skills, especially in a second language.

As to whether conversation/communication is already taught in the numerous language schools, I don't know if that matters as many of these young kids are not taking lessons there (though that is slowly changing as English becomes to perceived as more essential by some parents). One factor is cost and another is time. I'm sure as a parent, you are well aware of the constraints that extracurricular activities place on the budget and a child's schedule.

As to whether conversation/communication skills can be taught using proposed discrete-item targets, this is debatable. Even for adults, it is at best a metod that will help learning, but still assumes that the students will probably need other exposure to more realistically framed communication/conversational patterns. But short of transporting these kids to an English boot camp or moving them abroad, given the time constraints given by Jim Dunlop, the kids will at least be given a head start toward conversing/communicating in English via these methods.

Of course, all skills based lessons wouldn't hurt either, but until the Japanese government decides to introduce English as a regular subject rather than as a requirement for an exam section, the amount of time to promote communication/conversational skills will be severely limited. Even teaching reading under these conditions is unlikely to produce good results without much parent participation and home instruction.
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MrCAPiTUL



Joined: 06 Feb 2006
Posts: 232
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
MR. CAPITUL,
Your remarks are unworthy and undeserved here. If you have nothing productive to say, why post such lame comments? If you seemingly support Mike, why the puerile comments equating the rest of us to children?


Glenski - I don't know if it is your intent, but you come off very condescending. You aren't the world's top authority on issues relating to the English language and its educational dissemination. lol. For real man, ease it up a bit. I wasn't referring to anybody on this board, nor calling anybody on this board children. Where did you get that from? Having that said, I will fill the gaps.

What I posted wasn't a lame comment. It is a comment based on, what I perceived, as Guest's desire to essentially lower the bar. The same shite happens in the States. People were trying to persuade school systems to teach ebonics. Since that is what the locals spoke, might as well teach it and reinforce it? Why bother trying to teach proper English if they aren't utilizing it are grasping it? I disagree. Raise the bar and challenge students. Especially at a tender young age, when kids are the most impressionable. They may not get everything you throw at them, but what they do get will be much richer. Also, it teaches them how to think above and beyond what they already know. It can almost be equated to the old saying - if you want a B on a test, shoot for an A.

Idiocracy - if you haven't seen the movie check it out. It pretty much addresses this subject in a broader context.

Edit: It reminds me of another push by some school boards to do away with learning how to write because the average 5 year old will be using computers for almost everything he or she does by the time s/he is 20. Why bother teaching them how to write if they will only be using keyboards? That is what this whole thing reminds me of.

Again I say - challenge kids, don't lower the bar.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Glenski - I don't know if it is your intent, but you come off very condescending. You aren't the world's top authority on issues relating to the English language and its educational dissemination. lol. For real man, ease it up a bit. I wasn't referring to anybody on this board, nor calling anybody on this board children. Where did you get that from?
MR. CAPITUL, I apologize for my remarks. I totally misread your post as telling the rest of us "Hey, Mr. Guest's remarks above are a challenge to you guys (you kiddies, that is)." I was wrong. Sorry for what I wrote. Yes, I'm not the top authority, but I still feel I have some salient points to make (about Mike's article), so I hope that this error won't affect anyone's judgment in what I have otherwise wrote. REALLY needed that caffeine this morning (and my kid off my lap when I write)!

BTW, I very much appreciate your expanding on the 2-word remark I flamed you on, and I agree 100% with what you just wrote.
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markle



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 1316
Location: Out of Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrCAPiTUL wrote:
Challenge kids - don't lower the bar.

Spoken like someone who doesn't actually have to teach, and is thus blissfully unaware of the realities teachers face and able to indulge in facile statements such as this.
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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Glenski beat me by a minute and docuemented his points a lot more than I did. Thanks Glenski, you have solidified our theoritical positions and I eagerly await Mike's response.

b]Mr Capital posted[/b]
Quote:
Challenge kids - don't lower the bar.


Just don't beat the quip posters over the head until you know what they're talking about Cool . Sometimes people don't express themselves as eloquently and clearly as they would like. Take it from me, I know as one of those who seems to swing between the extremes of clear and concise to vague and wordy Confused !


Last edited by gaijinalways on Sun Jul 01, 2007 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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MrCAPiTUL



Joined: 06 Feb 2006
Posts: 232
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Markle, I was a public school teacher in Florida for a few years (middle grades). I am thoroughly aware of the issues and challenges that exist in education. Honestly, I held the bar above their heads and made them reach for it. I would catch flack sometimes saying I was too hard on them, but come next school year students would come back from the high school and personally tell me that I was the only teacher who prepared them for highschool.


Glenski, no harm no foul.

I, too, apologize for not clearly explaining what I was referring to.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Markle,
I agree with MR. CAPITUL in not lowering the bar in Japan. I also taught in high school (private) for 4 years. That school had an escalator system for kids to enter a sister university, but it only meant half of them went there. Those kids didn't even have to take an entrance exam! Did I take it easy on them? Nope. Please explain why anyone should.

I realize that Japanese schools have their quota system for grades (ie, a certain percentage of kids are supposed to get the equivalent of As, Bs, Cs, etc.), and I often had to juggle my grades to meet that quote, but did I lower the quality of my teaching to establish the grades in the first place? Heck no!
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