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In Continuing Cooperative Development, a series of guided tasks helps the reader acquire specific skills of listening and responding that, in turn, help a speaker to express and articulate thoughts and plans that lie just beyond what they knew that they knew.
By adopting a certain style of speaking and listening to colleagues for agreed periods of time, motivated professionals can take individual control of their own development and increase the feeling of collegiality in their workplace. Continuing Cooperative Development draws on Edge's experience of more than ten years using this framework worldwide and provides authentic examples to guide the reader. This interactive framework is demonstrated in the book as part of a reflective teaching approach in response to everyday classroom problems, and also as part of a more formal, action-research approach to the formulation of local educational theory.
The key theme of this book is the power of non-judgmental discourse to facilitate the development of ideas and action, accessing both cognitive and emotional intelligence. The transcribed and interpreted data of authentic interactions from the Americas, Europe, and Asia serve as evidence for the argument and as guidelines for implementation.
The work is set in the field of TESOL, although its relevance reaches across discipline boundaries. The teachers featured in the book have duties ranging from the instruction of young learners to the supervision of doctoral research. The common denominator is that these people are motivated educators, committed to extending their own understanding and developing their own style of being an aware professional.
|Publisher:||University of Michigan Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
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Continuing Cooperative Development: a Discourse Framework for Individuals As Colleagues
By Julian Edge
University of Michigan PressCopyright © 2002 Julian Edge
All right reserved.
Chapter 1 People, Perspectives, and Purposes
Who Is This Book For?
I have written this book for people who teach. Whether you teach young children or doctoral students, somewhere in-between or somewhere else altogether, is not for me the issue. This book contains data from all these scenarios. I want to link up with what it is that some of us have in common: a readiness to invest a little more of our time and energy than we are paid for. We do so in an effort to develop a style of teaching, and, more than that, of being a teacher, that is coherent with our sense of who we are and that is satisfying for our students and for ourselves.
My own professional field is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Although the kind of work introduced in this book is not specific to TESOL, it is from TESOL and allied fields that my examples are taken and with which I expect most of my readers to be engaged. I hope you will allow me to address you directly.
I expect that you are probably not a committed disciple of a specific "one-method-fits-all" approach to language teaching, because you have noticed, both from your experience and from your reading, that learners develop their language abilities in different ways. You recognize that these differences are influenced by a host of features, including age, prior knowledge of other languages, national and educational culture, social context, various forms of motivation and aspiration, individual styles of perception and evaluation beyond conscious control, as well as the conscious deployment of natural aptitudes and learned strategies.
You have probably also made the connection between these frequently noted facts about the individuality of learners and the less frequently made point that teachers are also individuals-in-context. Just as it makes no sense to expect all learners to be at their best when following an imposed set of prearranged steps, it is equally unconvincing to suggest that teachers will each be at their best if they all follow the same routines. It would be inconsistent to the point of incoherence to insist on respect for the contextualized, individual processes of the learner if one were not prepared to show equal respect for the contextualized, individual processes of the teacher.
You probably do not want me to exaggerate this point. Of course there are common factors involved, general principles arising from the nature of language and human learning, that will underpin all our efforts. On that basis, you will find it reasonable to say that the best language learner that I can be will behave in some ways similarly to and in some ways differently from the best language learner that you can be. And the best language teacher that I can be will behave in some ways similarly to and in some ways differently from the best language teacher that you can be.
I would like to say that it is the space between our common humanity and our individual, contextualized differences that constitutes the territory of our potential development as teachers. It is exactly this space that I want to explore. It's a big country.
If you agree with me that the discourse of individualization that we hear is often rather one-sided, then we may also agree on a parallel between this and the frequently voiced requirement that teachers be engaged in continuing professional development. That is to say, you will have noticed, with some sense of irony, the contradictions between this demand and others: the way, for example, in which society insists that teachers should all be using the "best methods"; the way in which everyone has an opinion about what these best methods are; the way in which employers like to pay teachers only for hours spent teaching; and the way in which politicians are much more sympathetic toward teachers' needs when they are in opposition than when they are in power.
Despite these ironic observations, however, you are not really attracted by the easy pleasures of cynicism. You are sympathetic to the idea of working on your own professional development, and if you discovered an appropriate kind of satisfaction in such work, you probably would find the extra time and energy to make the effort required. You do not want to become involved in abstract theorizing, but nor are you (any longer) totally satisfied with "it works" as the ultimate motivation for and justification of the way in which you spend your professional life.
And beyond a desire to increase the effectiveness of your teaching in technical or procedural terms, you are probably also attracted by the idea that there is a potential for connection between professional development and personal development. If you can become more aware of your own aptitudes, preferences, and strengths and use them in your teaching, you might not only develop your own best style of teaching you might also develop as the type of person that you want to be.
You may feel a little nervous about that last proposition, but your mind is not closed to it. You would probably want to agree that teaching has a basis in certain values (again with a potential to differ in different circumstances) and that teachers who embody these values in the way they teach, like anyone else who embodies their values in the way they treat other people, have a kind of coherence about their lives that is admirable as well as effective.
You may have an intuition--and you may know some examples of this phenomenon or be familiar with the research exploring it (e.g., Huberman 1993)--that some people move along through a career in teaching with more overall satisfaction than others and also come to retirement with a very different attitude about how they spent their lives. Was it more or less a waste of time, battling with ungrateful people who never realized how hard you worked? Or was it a pretty interesting way to spend a working life, leaving you with the feeling that you had made some kind of a contribution? The difference can be decisive in a person's life, and the clearest single indicator of which outcome is more likely is the extent to which teachers, after initial training and with competence achieved through experience, continue to develop their teaching in small-scale ways that respond to features of their own context.
If you're still reading, and if you recognize a person here that you can relate to, then I believe we may have interesting work to do together.
I have addressed most of my comments so far to experienced ESOL teachers. But if you are just starting out in TESOL or are taking an initial training course, I believe that this work can also be of use to you, because an involvement with continuing self-development is something to begin as soon as possible. There are skills here to be learned that will stand you in a good stead during your course of study, as well as in your workplace thereafter.
I sincerely hope and believe that this work will speak to teacher-educators, for two different reasons: first, because teacher-educators are also teachers and need to be demonstrating, through their own example, a commitment to ongoing professional development; second, because if teacher-educators find the approach taken in this book useful for themselves, they might want to show their course participants how it works, as I do mine. But please note here: the approach taken in this book depends on equal-to-equal, peer relationships. It does not offer an approach to teacher training or education, any more than it offers an approach to TESOL methodology.
Is this book relevant to researchers? It is if you are interested in the processes and the facilitation of teacher development or in the relationship between thought and language or in the analysis of genuine discourse data that makes claims about how we can influence both our thinking and the collegiality of our relationships via the conscious choices we make in our use of language. But one warning here, too: this is meant not so much as a book about teacher development as a book for teacher development. To say this is already to begin an argument about what we mean by educational research and what we see as its appropriate outcomes, but I'm not going to pursue that argument here. Well, not in detail, but let me say two things. First, although you can certainly comprehend what is in this book by reading it, you cannot properly understand what I have to tell you without involving yourself in at least some aspect of the experience that the book frames for you. Second, and as the other side of the same coin, this work is of particular use to action researchers.
What about people in managerial positions? If you see it as a part of your mission to facilitate the continuing professional development of your workforce, but you are not sure what to do apart from organizing occasional visiting speakers, this book offers a disciplined framework that teachers (and administrators) can be invited to try out and report back on. It has a clear program of tasks toward the acquisition of specified skills that can, in turn, be used to pursue locally specified goals. In-house evaluation will tell you to what extent the desired outcomes are being achieved.
That is my wide angle on the readership I seek. Let me now finish this section by saying that, no matter how much I might wish it to be otherwise, this book is not for everyone, not even inside my intended core audience. I have been working in this area for too long to want to kid myself now. How could it be for everyone? I want to introduce you to a particular way of working on your own development. So much of what I have said so far turns around the idea that no single way of being a teacher can be right for everyone. That same stricture must apply to my work and to this book.
Is this particular way of use or interest to you? So far, I have described some aspects of the readers for whom I have written. Do you feel addressed? If you are still undecided, I hope you can take the time to read the next brief section, in which I sketch a couple of my perceptions regarding our professional situation in these interesting times.
Where We Are Now
This section is important to me because I think that we have suffered quite a lot in TESOL from the stream of new directions that have been pointed out to us over the years as general themes. I offer a personal selection since 1969:
There's no point in teaching about language. Teach the sentence patterns; never mind about vocabulary in the early stages. Don't let people make mistakes. Never use L1. Language form is sterile; teach through situations. Situations are not transferable; teach functions. Functions are not systematic enough; use tasks. Teachers should talk less. Only natural acquisition counts in communication. Teacher talk is useful input. Making mistakes is necessary and helpful. Correction serves no purpose. Teach discourse organizers. Encourage self- and peer-correction. Use of L1 and translation can be positive. Teach lots of vocabulary; never mind about grammar in the early stages. Introduce longer lexical chunks. Focus on form. Raise learners' awareness about language.What these items have in common is that they all started not from an appreciation but from a rejection of what and how we actually were teaching--as we were, where we were, at any given time. These external models of how we should behave have not only frequently been mutually contradictory but have also invariably appeared to indicate that good teaching was somewhere else and that we needed to move toward it from whatever we were doing at that moment.
I question this attitude. Of course we want to hear about new ideas and practices, so let them keep coming, but we also need a way to proceed that is based on a recognition of where we are. We cannot sensibly set off in any direction without an awareness of where we are; even if we agree on common goals, the nature of individual next steps toward these goals must depend on our current positions. So my counterbalancing perspective on good teaching is that it is not somewhere else at all. It is right here and right there. I would say to every reader of this book that the best way for you to teach is exactly the way that you do teach, provided only that you are committed to the development of your teaching in ways that you believe to be sensitive to the needs of your students and yourself.
I realize that this is not a universally held position. The eminent teacher-educators Zeichner and Tabachnich, for example, write (1991, 2):
We do not accept the implication that exists throughout much of the literature, that teachers' actions are necessarily better just because they are more deliberate or intentional.Well, I guess I do accept that implication. Or, at least, that must be my default expectation unless there is evidence to the contrary. As I start from the position that I can work sensitively with my colleagues and students on my own self-development, I find that I also need to extend that same respect to my peers. It may be possible to identify a case of a teacher who is deliberately and intentionally acting in ways that are demonstrably harmful to his or her students, although I personally have not come across such a teacher. If the person concerned refused to respond to compelling evidence at hand, then we would probably be looking at disciplinary procedures, but we have now come a long way from what I see as the point of my perspective, which is this:
As well as an external model approach to the continuing professional development of teachers, we need an internal growth approach. This approach extends trust and respect to those fellow professionals who are working on their own development as educators, in context-sensitive directions that they judge to be appropriate, whether or not these directions mirror the fluctuating fashions of TESOL orthodoxy.A complementary perception of mine in this area is that we in TESOL have learned a lot through "whole-person" approaches, in which we regard our students not simply as classroom-bound language learners but as whole people. A similar concern for teachers as whole people has not always been so apparent, but it promises to be equally fruitful and possibly quite refreshing. By definition, our main criterion for success as teachers is the achievement of our students. I do not intend to repeat this statement of the obvious throughout the book. Let me state again here that I take this to be a matter of definition: a teacher is a person who helps others to learn.
Excerpted from Continuing Cooperative Development: a Discourse Framework for Individuals As Colleagues by Julian Edge Copyright © 2002 by Julian Edge. Excerpted by permission.
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