An Incredibly Profound Way of Looking at Language Education

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I’m sure that many of you are already familiar with TED.com, the site that spreads ideas from leading thinkers in their field.

There’s one talk I’d like to draw your attention to, as it holds so many ideas that are relevant to us in the TEFL and language education field. As a bonus, it'll even make you laugh a couple of times.

While the focus is on the American education system and policies, there are fundamental implications for education, learning and teaching that are much wider in scope.

Please, just watch and with each idea that occurs, ask yourself, ‘how could I apply that to ELT?’

Some particularly meaningful quotations from the presentation, that hold true for TEFL;

  1. “There are three principles on which human life flourishes and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labour and most students have to endure.”

  2. “If you can light the fire of curiosity in a child they will learn without any further assistance...”

  3. There is no school in the world that is better than its teachers.

  4. “…teaching is a creative profession. Teaching properly conceived is not a delivery system.”

  5. “The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning. That’s it.”

  6. “The role of testing is important…but they should be diagnostic, not dominate.”

  7. “…individualise teaching and learning. They recognise that it's students who are learning and the system has to engage them, their curiosity ,their individuality and their creativity, and that’s how you get them to learn.”

  8. “Investing in professional development is not a cost, it’s an investment. Every other country that’s succeeding knows that.”

  9. If you remove teachers’ [discretion], it [the system] stops working

  10. Education is not a mechanical system, it’s a human system. It’s about people. People who either do want to learn, or don’t want to learn.

  11. “You cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners...”

It’s twenty minutes long, so grab yourself a cup of tea, sit back and prepare to have your ideas challenged.