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One of the most enjoyable and inspiring books I have read this year has been Sir Ken Robinson's "Out of our Minds"  and my ref...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Better together

I am not a prolific blogger by any stretch of the imagination. I write when something moves me to write or when I feel I should in order to clarify my thoughts or make a public statement. Today is one of those moments and is borne of a few weeks mulling over....

Back in my school days at just 13 years old I remember telling my parents I wanted to be an English teacher. I had been inspired by my wonderful English teacher (probably now long gone, Mr Carduss, Leamington College for Girls back in the 70's). He would bring a record player into the classroom and play recordings of great plays and poetry, war poets, Shakepeare and Chaucer..)our discussions would be lively and contemporary and he encouraged us to argue with clarity and not be afraid of disagreement. Looking back now I see that the ethos he created was one of respect and reason. He tried to persuade my parents that teaching would be too boring for me, I may have disappointed him in that respect as it was and remains my passion. 

Of course I later found a language learning passion which lead me to become a teacher of French and I do not regret that for a minute. Later in my career however I became aware of tensions and divisions within language professionals which I find frustrating and make me hanker for the  lively but respectful debates of my youth. English specialists complain about the pedantry of modern foreign language teachers, those involved in languages in the UK also find themselves in different camps depending on the nature of their learners - undergraduates or IWLP students. 

Such divisions are not helpful to us as professionals and they certainly do nothing to inspire new members to join our communities. We may be many sub communities of practice but our overarching aim is to remain vibrant and relevant to the next generation. We should take heed of Wilfred Owen's words:

"One dies of war like any old disease.''