Why Stop Teaching?
Stop teaching! That’s what I say to myself when I feel I’m too invasive in my teaching, when I interfere too much in the classroom activities, when I jump at every hurdles that my students encounter. Being invasive is mainly due to my quest for perfection, when I want every little bit of my teaching to be perfect. We have been told that teaching is being actively involved in everything. Being constantly active is considered as a value.
Lately, I have read an article about not interfering in the teaching by Scott Thornbury which reminded me that silence, like in music, is part and parcel of the teaching process. Silence can be more productive than being busy interfering in every bit of the teaching activities.
Merits of not interfering
Not interfering bears so many advantages:
- Limiting the teacher’s interference within the classroom has a major role in enhancing and maintaining a better learning since learning is experiential and much more autonomous.
- Reducing teacher’s talk and increasing students involvement in their own learning leads to bestowing more responsiblity of learning on students.
- Providing opportunity for students to consider the underlying principles of the subject they are learning. For example, efl or esl students discover the rules of the language and infer the meaning of vocabulary items by themselves.
- By stepping back you are providing much room for students to show their creativity. Most of the times teachers stifle students innovative ideas by being too controlling and dominant.
- Limiting teachers interference doesn’t mean they do absolutely nothing and become lazy. By being less dominant, teachers have enough time to be mindful, standing back and pondering what’s going on in the classroom, what’s working and what’s not, what needs fixing and what needs recycling. This is only possible if the teacher observes learners struggling to learn. Intervention instead of interference may be necessary at times, but students must be involved actively, in the sense of Caleb Gattegno’ s silent way, to take responsibility of their own learning.
- Reducing teachers authoritative teaching frees students to learn in a low affective filter. Learners needs are taken into account and are treated with more respect by being true humans instead of recipients to be filled.
- Stepping back just makes teachers become good active listeners, hence encouraging real conversations within the classroom.
- Getting the students actually talk and listen to each other is a challenge that can be overcome only by minimal intervention on the part of the teacher.
- Students working together yields effective learning. Students work harder to develop their listening skills and have to work harder to express meaning in a way that can be understood.
This is said, I’d like to mention that traditional methods of teaching consider that all-knowing teachers must be the central element of the teaching process, that students are there to receive knowledge. While this has long been criticized, are teachers ready to change their mindset and allow students to be real humans?
What activities or ideas do you use to reduce your interference and increase instances of healthy learning experiences in your teaching?